The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) is helping people in Australia care for patients with the COVID-19 virus at home.
Any person with the COVID-19 virus must self-isolate and stay at home, unless seeking medical care to help prevent the spread of infection.
RACGP spokesperson Dr Penny Burns, a member of the development team behind the guidelines, said it was vital that people knew how to properly care for themselves, family or household members or loved ones with the COVID-19 virus.
“Most people who contract COVID-19 will only experience mild symptoms such as a cough or a sore throat. However, it is important for patients, household members and care givers to carefully monitor for signs of worsening symptoms and contact their GP for a telehealth consultation if this occurs,” Dr Burns said.
“It is also vital for people who share a home with a person with COVID-19 to understand how to stay safe and what their obligations are when quarantining.
“Early escalation for worsening or severe symptoms is essential. The daily symptom diary and action plan for patients is an easy and practical way of achieving this, with clear guidance for the patient on who to reach out to if certain symptoms present.
“A person should be immediately transferred to a hospital if the patient develops symptoms or signs suggestive of moderate or severe COVID-19. That includes severe shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, blue lips or face, pain or pressure in the chest, new confusion or fainting or coughing up blood.”
Dr Burns noted that the guidelines for GPs came at an important time in the fight against the COVID-19 virus.
“Victoria is still experiencing high infection rates and our guidelines provide practical advice for GPs in putting in place a management plan to ensure the safety of the patient and other household members,” Dr Burns said.
“The guidelines will help support clinical decision making and act as a useful tool in the doctor-patient relationship, particularly since GPs are well positioned to advise on a range of other health concerns that may affect how a patient handles this virus.”
The guidelines for GPs provide information on determining a patient’s suitability for home based clinical care, action plans to ensure the safety of the patient, household members and care givers, managing symptoms, escalating treatment if severe symptoms emerge and utilising telehealth consultations.
Another key component provides guidance for GPs supporting their patient’s mental health.
The guide for people with COVID-19 and their care givers includes information on:
· monitoring for signs of worsening symptoms and what to do if the person’s condition deteriorates
· ensuring a person with COVID-19 is isolating in a separate room and using a separate bathroom where possible
· infection control practices including frequent and thorough hand washing and disinfecting frequently touched surfaces
· practicing good mental health by developing a daily routine, trusting credible medical sources and keeping in touch with friends and family members
· links to other resources including online mental health support and local state and territory health department