Coronovirus Information for Members
March 18, 2020
Main Coronovirus Page | Telehealth | Volunteer Opportunities
Things have been moving very quickly on the Federal, State, and Local levels in response to the COVID-19 Pandemic. APTAMD is working hard to continue to provide timely information and resources that can help guide our decisions. Over the past week, and especially the last few days, you have received numerous directives from Federal, State, and Local officials. The guidance you receive from these sources remains crucial information on how to interact with your community on a personal level but continues to leave us with unanswered questions regarding professional interactions with our clients. These questions range from just making a decision on keeping a practice open to finding alternatives to in-person face-to-face patient interactions. This is especially true for those functioning independently outside of institutional, educational, or large company settings.
Here is some general guidance from APTAMD:
- There is still no current directive that you should cease treating patients in your clinic. Physical therapists should determine, on a case-by-case basis, if the care being provided warrants an in-person encounter and if such an encounter can be done in an environment that minimizes the potential risk of exposure to the COVID-19 virus. Consideration should be given to delay in-person encounters when that delay won’t result in an adverse outcome. The underlying premise is to “do no harm.” You and the patient must determine if the risk of providing care outweighs the risks of not providing care at this time.
- Conduct proper screening procedures for your staff, patients and those individuals accompanying patients to their appointments. Those failing basic screening questions should be redirected back to their home. Identify high risk individuals and follow current guidelines using the information provided by CDC and the Maryland Dept of Health.
- Maintain social distancing in your clinics. This would involve utilizing private treatment rooms and modifying schedules to reduce patient-to-patient interactions.
- Maintain the highest sanitary levels via frequent handwashing/sanitizer use and surface disinfection. Inform patients of your procedures via a posted notice at the time of check-in.
- Follow guidance from federal, local, and state agencies that may influence how you handle any of the above suggestions. The CDC has provided a resource for getting your practice ready.
- The use of telehealth is one approach that can help protect the patient and provider during this time of crisis. Investigate and consider the issues within the following areas as you make decisions on whether or not to use telehealth in your practice. Refer to our main telehealth resource page
APTA Statement on Patient Care and Practice Management During COVID-19 OutbreakAs actions are taken across the country to reduce the spread of COVID-19, a virus that spreads easily from close contact, APTA encourages physical therapists to use their professional judgment to determine when, where, and how to provide care, with the understanding this is not the optimal environment for care, for anyone involved.
APTA encourages PTs, PTAs, and students to flatten the curve of the COVID-19 outbreak by following CDC guidance to minimize exposure in the clinic and practice social distancing by avoiding large social gatherings. At the same time, we know that our profession plays a crucial role in the health of our society, and there are people in our communities whose health will be significantly impacted by disruptions to care.
Patient care has always been specific to the individual, with the physical therapist assessing a person's needs relative to their goals. Thus, physical therapists have a responsibility to review CDC guidance, to understand who is at highest risk and how to best reduce exposure, and to use their professional judgment in the best interests of their patients and clients and their local communities — including rescheduling nonurgent care if that is the best approach, or making other adjustments when the risk of exposure to COVID-19 outweighs the benefits of immediate treatment.
APTA continues to be a great resource for regularly updated information, especially at the national level. Please bookmark and access regularly APTA’s Coronavirus page. APTAMD has also created a COVID-19 Resource Page and Telehealth Resource Page for Maryland PTs and PTAs. This page will be updated regularly.