’Four signposts’ must be met before state, local governments loosen restrictions

As states begin to loosen restrictions put in place during the outbreak of Covid-19 in the United States, the American Medical Association issued guidance for medical practices to reopen. The AMA guidance comes as many states are lifting restrictions on elective procedures and non-urgent care.

The AMA resource — Covid-19: A physician practice guide to reopeningoutlined how physicians can be strategic in their reopening plans and reiterated “four signposts” that must exist before stay-at-home orders are relaxed:

  • There must be minimal risk of community transmission and evidence of the curve of case and deaths flattening.
  • There must be “a robust, coordinated, and well-supplied testing network.”
  • “A public health system for surveillance and contact tracing” must be in place.
  • Hospitals and the health care workforce must be fully resources.

The AMA urged state and local governments to adhere to these four signposts before loosening Covid-19 restrictions.

“The AMA believes decisions about public health and the provision of health care — including decisions to allow non-urgent or elective medical procedures amid the Covid-19 pandemic — should be made based on science, evidence, and data,” said AMA President Patrice A. Harris, MD, MA, in a statement. “With some physicians beginning the process of reopening their practices, this essential resource supplies them with guidance to do so while keeping patients, staff and the general public as safe as possible from a Covid-19 resurgence. The AMA remains focused on ensuring the viability of physicians’ practices that have been seriously impacted by this public health crisis and will continue providing support while aggressively advocating on physicians’ and patients’ behalf.”

The AMA guide provides a checklist for a safe reopening so that physician practices are in compliance with state and federal mandates. It also “includes a step-by-step approach to safely and incrementally opening a medical practice…” which “includes details needed to plan for supplying the office with personal protective equipment (PPE), suggestions for routine disinfecting regimens and staff scheduling protocols.”

The guide also outlines how to institute new safety protocols for patients, clinicians, and staff, as well as reviews medical liability, privacy, and confidentiality policies in regard to Covid-19. The AMA called the latter “new legal territory and scenarios related to essential Covid-19 screening of patients, visitors and staff, including how to establish and maintain health-related privacy, confidentiality and data security to protect Covid-19 employee testing results while remaining in compliance with HIPAA rules,” the statement noted.

Candace Hoffmann, Managing Editor, BreakingMED™

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