Historically most apparent in epidemics has been the unavoidable risk faced by the healthcare workers in the course of caring for patients with infectious diseases, during which doctors have selflessly handled patients known to have serious, communicable infections.
SARS-CoV-2 was dubbed the 2019 novel coronavirus, and the infection caused by it is called the 2019 coronavirus disease, or COVID-19. COVID-19 is known to be a contagious respiratory disease firstly identified at Wuhan city in China, which spread worldwide in December 2019. This coronavirus has spread to over 100 countries around the world since the initial outbreak. It has infected many thousands of people with symptomatic illnesses such as common cold, and an extreme acute respiratory syndrome known as SARS. In March 2020, the WHO announced it a global pandemic (1).
COVID-19 tends to spread amongst those in close contact, from one human being to others. If anyone infected with the virus coughs or sneezes, it is transmitted by respiratory droplets. The infectious depth of the virus is still unknown. When coronavirus spreads, how physicians, nurses, paramedics, and other healthcare staff in the front line of exposure, both physically and mentally, protect themselves?
Infectious disease researchers often face risks as they deal with suspiciously harmful and infectious microorganisms. Doctors who obey agreed patient isolation rules gain basic knowledge of how diseases are transmitted, set an example of responsible conduct for other medical and paramedical personnel, and protect themselves and other patients from unnecessary care.
Doctors with time-tested hygiene protocols are protecting themselves against coronavirus and Covid-19, the same kinds of infection-control steps anyone would use.
Proper Hygiene Protocol & Methods Followed
For the most part, there are the same things doctors and others do in their practice every day in their clinics. These are many of the same things we all should be doing. Many physicians also do business and practice good cough and respiratory etiquette. We take the standard precautions to prevent respiratory and COVID-19 diseases, such as continually washing their hands, covering their cough, cleaning regularly touched surfaces, and avoiding sharing personal things with other people.
Let’s know the steps taken by the healthcare professionals and doctors to protect themselves:
- Washing Hands
Still, doctors believe that they can’t escape the mandate to wash their hands. It even means everywhere and all the time, the number one precaution. Washing hands with water and soap for 20 seconds covering fingers, nails, back of hands, and exposed areas. If they don’t have facilities of soap and water, they use an alcohol-based sanitizer just to ensure they’re doing it correctly.
- Putting Hands far away from the face
Doctors have about as much difficulty of not moving hands on their faces as we all do. Research in the American Journal showed that an average of 23 times an hour, a group of medical students approached their hands on their faces; 44 percent of the time, this makes contact with a mucous membrane. Extrapolate those figures to a fifteen-hour a day, and think about 345 chances of being infected with a virus.
In the body, too, viruses reach through the nose, mouth, and other mucous membranes. The virus has a swift entrance to the respiratory system when a person has hands contaminated with coronavirus, and then he touches his nose. Eyes also can be an entrance point, a study in The Lancet’s February 6, 2020 edition points out, so also stop touching eyes with your unwashed hands.
- Managing Sneezing Etiquette
Currently, WHO believes that coronavirus spreads through respiratory droplets that are released when patients cough or sneeze. Usually, droplets will move within three to six feet. Doctors typically use a mask or tissue or cough into their elbow fold. But when they stop with a cough or sneeze, they quickly wash their hands properly with soap and water. If not available, they may also use a 60 percent alcohol hand sanitizer.
- Bumping Elbows
Bumping Elbows termed as “the new handshake” is being practiced by Doctors and other healthcare providers as a new greeting way. The reason is evident, as you are unlikely to touch your face with an elbow. Coronavirus is not likely to be spread by angles. You just don’t know where a hand was, which means touching hands could spread the virus in any way.
- Cleaning using Disinfectants
WhileCovid-19 mainly spreads from coughing or sneezing between people through respiratory droplets, and preliminary data indicate that coronavirus can live on surfaces up to a day. That means people may touch a contaminated counter or tabletop, then infect themselves or someone else with the virus on their hands. Healthcare professionals depend on wipes being disinfected to combat the problem.
- Asking Patients to Call before Visiting
That’s because the last thing you want for the doctor or other patients is someone with suspected coronavirus in a crowded waiting room. Doctors advise patients with complaints contact their healthcare provider instead of arriving in the hospital for emergency treatment. They ask patients to discuss their symptoms over the phone and then, in consultation with the healthcare provider, decide the appropriate next step. This move can prevent exposure.
Major Protection Methods Followed
Doctors and healthcare professionals are investing a great deal of their time on continuously educating people about the need for hand hygiene, the proper utility of sanitizers, covering the mouth while sneezing, proper tissue disposal, and so on. Ensuring the fear of insecurity, the call of the hour for them is to take the opportunity to assess the cases that come to them for any potential coronavirus threat.
Hospitals and clinics have protocols to be followed for patients to be screened before they ever visit a health facility. Patients who fit any of the symptomatic criteria are given a mask and placed in an isolation room while doctors and other staff take measures to control infection. Emergency service front-line workers wear respirators, gowns, gloves, and goggles.
- Medical Masks
Face masks do not prevent doctors from contracting the virus but can help stop a corona-infected person from transmitting the symptoms. Face masks are not the same as N95 respirators or OxyBreath Pro Mask, which look little like face masks but protect against bacteria and viruses (blocking 95 percent of small particles, like germs). The suspected coronavirus persons are equipped with standard face masks to wear in the waiting room before they are isolated in a hospital or at home for spread.
- Protective Gear
Members of the medical team wear protective equipment to care for patients with COVID-19 coronavirus contaminated or symptomatic. Doctors often feel insecure, nervous, and depressed as they treat the patients affected. As health care staff, they are committed to the task that lies ahead and follows a detailed and elaborate protocol provided by health authorities to keep them healthy. When the patient enters with severe flu-like symptoms, they must triage and interview them to verify if they have a travel background to any of the countries of concern or have been in close touch with a COVID-19 patient there. When doing so, they wear Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) uniform. They include gowns, caps, goggles, and gloves. This PPE is all thrown away into the hazardous waste trash after the examination of the patient.
- Working with Protective suits
A paramedic with an ambulance service said that when called upon to answer an emergency order, they would wear disposable protective suits. “I know they’re our best visibility defense in the front line, but sometimes the suits still make us afraid. Upon having raised a patient, I obey all hygiene procedures thoroughly. I know the procedures are extensive as a professional paramedic, but as a human being, I feel susceptible, so I must take due care. Moreover, I need to protect other patients, too,” he said.
Doctors establish or obey a procedure to notify key facility employees and public health authorities of the reality of a patient suspected of coronavirus infection. They have an ethical duty to compulsively obey the isolation guidelines to protect their patients and themselves. While the COVID-19 is a significant challenge for the entire healthcare system, doctor practices face a unique set of issues themselves. Doctors must constantly monitor and balance their patient’s severe needs. They also have to manage their health officials and staff through this major crisis. There are significant challenges faced by them that have to be minimized.
Doctors need to make sure they keep their staff, colleagues, and patients healthy. The clinicians need reassurance that the doctors are doing everything they can to ensure the health of the team while attempting to provide patients with adequate treatment.