What Precautions to Take While Visiting Your Doctor's Clinic, a Hospital or a Lab for Tests
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Due to lockdowns and implementations of social distancing norms, many people from urban areas have chosen to consult doctors via teleconsultation, video consultation and health apps instead of stepping into the public clinics.
The COVID-19 pandemic has had a disruptive effect on everybody’s life. From school and colleges shutting down to most people working from home, the disruption is all-encompassing. Naturally then, it has affected our access to healthcare services too.
Due to lockdowns and implementations of social distancing norms, many people from urban areas have chosen to consult doctors via teleconsultation, video consultation and health apps instead of stepping into the public clinics or outpatient healthcare centres run by family physicians, medical colleges, private hospitals and government hospitals. But, on the other hand, there are others who have skipped their regular checkups and follow-ups altogether and this has had a severe effect, especially on those who are advanced in age, have underlying health conditions or new symptoms of one and women who are pregnant.
Why you should continue to take safety precautions
Even now that lockdowns have lifted and most doctors are reopening their clinics, people may choose not to opt for in-person care. The COVID-19 pandemic is far from over after all and social distancing norms, as well as hand and respiratory hygiene norms, still have to be followed to prevent the transmission of SARS-CoV-2. This is leading to people delaying consultations, treatments, lab tests, etc. even in cases where these are absolutely necessary.
A new study published in the Journal of Public Health Management and Practice mentions that instead of delaying going to the doctor for an in-person appointment and care, adequate safety strategies should be adopted by clinics, their staff, doctors and the patients themselves, in order to avoid SARS-CoV-22 transmission while providing necessary healthcare facilities. The following are some of the recommendations made by this study that can be easily adopted by all.
1. Making an appointment
All visits to the clinic or health centre should be made by appointment only and walk-in appointments should be strictly avoided. While making the appointment, the clinic staff must do a preliminary screening, take insurance and other relevant information and let the patient know that they must wear a mask during the appointment.
2. Limiting contact
The clinic staff and patients must ensure social distance of at least six feet and limit contact in every possible way. Any information that can be conveyed prior to the appointment should be given on the phone in advance. Patients must wear masks and come for their appointment alone to minimise risk for other family members. They must also avoid coming early or late for their appointment, which can unnecessarily increase their wait time at the clinic.
3. Sanitizing is a must
Hand sanitizers must be provided on entry to the clinic and be made available indoors as well. All high-touch surfaces, common areas and equipment must be sanitized after every use. Crowding in the waiting room must be avoided at all cost.
4. Precautions for lab tests
Patients who need to get blood, urine or other lab tests done must also make prior appointments and ask the lab staff for staggered in-person collection timings. The labs should maintain staggered timings, separate equipment, all safety protocols while collecting samples, and also ensure that patients coming for COVID-19 screenings aren’t in close contact with those who are getting screened for other health problems.
For more information, read our article on Pros and cons of telemedicine during COVID-19 pandemic.
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