An AMA checklist designed to help physicians manage the safe reopening of their practices emphasizes new precautions that must be taken to protect patients, clinicians and staff from COVID-19 as in-person care resumes or becomes more routine. A key tool for a safe reopening is prescreening patients before their arrival.
The AMA has developed the template for a pre-appointment patient screening script that practices can modify or use to assess patients’ potential COVID-19 symptoms or exposure ahead of entry to the office or clinic.
Patients should be told their responses will be kept confidential and will be reviewed by a practice clinician who will provide guidance regarding any adjustments to the patient’s scheduled appointment.
If patients answer “yes” to any of the questions, guidance is included on what actions to take. Here are some of the screening questions included in the script:
- Have you or anyone in your household had any of the following symptoms in the last 21 days: sore throat, cough, chills, body aches for unknown reasons, shortness of breath for unknown reasons, loss of smell, loss of taste, fever at or greater than 100 degrees Fahrenheit?
- Have you or anyone in your household been tested for COVID-19?
- Have you or anyone in your household visited or received treatment in a hospital, nursing home, long-term care, or other health care facility in the past 30 days?
- Have you or anyone in your household traveled in the U.S. in the past 21 days?
- Have you or anyone in your household traveled on a cruise ship in the last 21 days?
- Are you or anyone in your household a health care provider or emergency responder?
- Have you or anyone in your household cared for an individual who is in quarantine or is a presumptive positive or has tested positive for COVID-19?
- Do you have any reason to believe you or anyone in your household has been exposed to or acquired COVID-19?
- To the best of your knowledge have you been in close proximity to any individual who tested positive for COVID-19?
If patient answers “yes” to any question, their responses should be reviewed by a designated medical leader to assess whether the patient can keep the scheduled appointment. Patients will be contacted again after decision-making.
Physicians should also consult the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ phase 1 guide for reopening facilities to provide nonemergency, non-COVID care.
Other tools and guidance can be found at the AMA’s COVID-19 resource center, which offers a library of the materials from the JAMA Network™, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization.
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