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Elective Services in Pulmonary Sleep Medicine to Resume During COVID-19

Guidance outlines operational strategy, including prioritization of patients, screening, follow-up

doctor listening to lungs

WEDNESDAY, July 22, 2020 (HealthDay News) -- In a guidance document issued by an American Thoracic Society-led international task force, published online July 14 in the Annals of the American Thoracic Society, recommendations are presented for the resumption of elective in-person clinical services in pulmonary and sleep medicine.

Because the daily case rate of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infection is now declining in some states, Kevin C. Wilson, M.D., from the Boston University School of Medicine, and colleagues developed plans by discussion and consensus for resuming elective services in pulmonary and sleep medicine clinics.

The authors note that before resuming elective clinical services, the community new case rate should be consistently low or have a downward trajectory for at least 14 days. Institutions should have an operational strategy that includes prioritization of patients' needs, screening and diagnostic testing for SARS-CoV-2, physical distancing, infection control and personal protective equipment use, and follow-up surveillance. The underlying goals are protecting patients and staff from virus exposure; accounting for limitations in staff, equipment, and space that are necessary for caring for COVID-19 patients; and providing access and care for patients with acute and chronic conditions.

"A static plan is unlikely to be maximally effective in the context of a dynamic process like SARS-CoV-2 transmission," Wilson said in a statement. "The operational strategy should be frequently assessed and modified as needed to emphasize strengths and correct faults."

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