COVID-19 Update II for EMS

First Case of 2019 Novel Coronavirus in the United States

The New England Journal of Medicine has rapidly published a peer-reviewed paper on the Snohomish County WA ‘Patient 1’. This was the first reported case of COVID 19 in the US. This seminal document, which given the magnitude of the case and its initial findings is released in full here

The work by Michelle L. Holshue, M.P.H., Chas DeBolt, M.P.H., Scott Lindquist, M.D., Kathy H. Lofy, et al for the Washington State 2019-nCoV Case Investigation Team was turned round in just over 5 weeks and below is an ‘Executive summary’ ( as extracted from the paper) but the full paper and range of results should be read in full.

Patient Presentation

On January 19, 2020, a 35-year-old man presented to an urgent care clinic in Snohomish County, Washington, with a 4-day history of cough and subjective fever. On checking into the clinic, the patient put on a mask in the waiting room. After waiting approximately 20 minutes, he was taken into an examination room and underwent evaluation by a provider. He disclosed that he had returned to Washington State on January 15 after traveling to visit family in Wuhan, China. The patient stated that he had seen a health alert from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) about the novel coronavirus outbreak in China and, because of his symptoms and recent travel, decided to see a health care provider.

On admission, the patient reported persistent dry cough and a 2-day history of nausea and vomiting; he reported that he had no shortness of breath or chest pain. Vital signs were within normal ranges. On physical examination, the patient was found to have dry mucous membranes. The remainder of the examination was generally unremarkable. After admission, the patient received supportive care, including 2 liters of normal saline and ondansetron for nausea.

Viral Presence

Both upper respiratory specimens obtained on illness day 7 remained positive for 2019-nCoV, including persistent high levels in a nasopharyngeal swab specimen (Ct values, 23 to 24).

Stool obtained on illness day 7 was also positive for 2019-nCoV (Ct values, 36 to 38).

Nasopharyngeal and oropharyngeal specimens obtained on illness days 11 and 12 showed a trend toward decreasing levels of virus

Day 8: Condition Improves

On hospital day 8 (illness day 12), the patient’s clinical condition improved. Supplemental oxygen was discontinued, and his oxygen saturation values improved to 94 to 96% while he was breathing ambient air. The previous bilateral lower-lobe rales were no longer present. His appetite improved, and he was asymptomatic aside from intermittent dry cough and rhinorrhea. As of January 30, 2020, the patient remains hospitalized. He is afebrile, and all symptoms have resolved with the exception of his cough, which is decreasing in severity.

History Taking

This case report highlights the importance of clinicians eliciting a recent history of travel or exposure to sick contacts in any patient presenting for medical care with acute illness symptoms, in order to ensure appropriate identification and prompt isolation of patients who may be at risk for 2019-nCoV infection and to help reduce further transmission. Finally, this report highlights the need to determine the full spectrum and natural history of clinical disease, pathogenesis, and duration of viral shedding associated with 2019-nCoV infection to inform clinical management and public health decision making.

Conclusion

There is little doubt that this paper is about to become a globally sited document as we continue to deal with COVID 19. As far as EMS and our first response to it goes, the paper reinforces the key actions currently being taken

 

Sample COVID-19 Policies for Mobile Healthcare Providers

Thank you to the following organizations for sharing their policies as examples.

Global Medical Response maintains a COVID-19 page to provide information to all members of the GMR community—clinicians and non-clinicians.

Updates from GMR Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Ed Racht

GMR Procedures

General Information for Caregivers

Compliance

HIPAA Reminder

FirstWatch Solutions

The intention of the COVID-19 Process/Policy Template is to provide agencies, medical directors, or others who want to utilize it, an outline/template on which to build an agency-specific policy/protocol to address COVID-19. This includes suggestions for development and/or oversight committees, outside partners and stakeholders, as well as preparation and process for EMS workers who provide best practice care for patients as well as providing for the protection of pre-hospital providers and medical director(s). Its application is totally up to the user.

This document is meant to be a living document that can be revised as circumstances or guidance changes. It can also be a discussion piece for those who choose to develop a different type of policy but may want to use some of the components of the document as a starting point.

Agency Guidance

CDC Interim Guidance for Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Systems and 911 Public Safety Answering Points (PSAPs) for COVID-19 in the United States
NEW March 6, 2020: CMS COVID-19 FAQs for Healthcare Providers (PDF Download)

March 5, 2020: CMS issued a second Healthcare Common Procedure Coding System (HCPCS) code for certain COVID-19 laboratory tests, in addition to three fact sheets about coverage and benefits for medical services related to COVID-19 for CMS programs.  https://www.cms.gov/newsroom/press-releases/cms-develops-additional-code-coronavirus-lab-tests

March 4, 2020: CMS issued a call to action to healthcare providers nationwide and offered important guidance to help State Survey Agencies and Accrediting Organizations prioritize their inspections of healthcare. https://www.cms.gov/newsroom/press-releases/cms-announces-actions-address-spread-coronavirus

February 13, 2020: CMS issued a new HCPCS code for providers and laboratories to test patients for COVID-19.  https://www.cms.gov/newsroom/press-releases/public-health-news-alert-cms-develops-new-code-coronavirus-lab-test

February 6, 2020: CMS gave CLIA-certified laboratories information about how they can test for SARS-CoV-2. https://www.cms.gov/medicareprovider-enrollment-and-certificationsurveycertificationgeninfopolicy-and-memos-states-and/notification-surveyors-authorization-emergency-use-cdc-2019-novel-coronavirus-2019-ncov-real-time-rt

February 6, 2020: CMS issued a memo to help the nation’s healthcare facilities take critical steps to prepare for COVID-19.  https://www.cms.gov/medicareprovider-enrollment-and-certificationsurveycertificationgeninfopolicy-and-memos-states-and/information-healthcare-facilities-concerning-2019-novel-coronavirus-illness-2019-ncov

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2020, American Medical Response (AMR), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), coronavirus, COVID-19, FirstWatch, Global Medical Response (GMR)


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rlawrence

Rob Lawrence has been a leader in civilian and military EMS for over a quarter of a century. Currently, he is the Principal of Robert Lawrence Consulting he previously served as the the Chief Operating Officer of Paramedics Plus in Alameda County, California. Prior to that, Rob was the COO of the Richmond Ambulance Authority, which won both state and national EMS Agency of the Year awards during his ten-year tenure. Before to coming to the US from the UK in 2008 Rob served as the COO for the East of England Ambulance Service in Suffolk County, England, and as the executive director of operations and service development for East Anglian Ambulance NHS Trust. Rob is a graduate of the UKs Royal Military Academy Sandhurst and served worldwide in the Royal Army Medical Corps with a 22-year military career in many prehospital and evacuation leadership roles, Since his arrival in the US, Rob also chaired the Prehospital and EMS Committee for the Pan American Trauma Society was involved in performance improvement and trauma system development projects for several South American countries. Rob has also long advocated for injury prevention and public health programs. He introduced the Rider Alert Motorcycle Safety program to the U.S., which won the EMS10 Award from the Journal of Emergency Medical Services (JEMS) and the World Motorcycle Safety Award from the Federation of International Motorcyclists. He has also led programs in Richmond to proliferate CPR training, and the funding and introduction of “Stop the Bleed” equipment into every Richmond public school. Rob is an accomplished international speaker, writer and broadcaster on EMS operations and the delivery of prehospital medical care. He is a member of the EMS World Editorial Advisory Board and currently serves as the chair of the AAA Communications Task Force and a member of the AAA media rapid response task force which provides industry media response to national industry related news enquiries.

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