On other topics, online discussions, like one at a "hub" for infectious diseases set up by the American College of Emergency Physicians – have had clear, potentially life-saving impacts on how patients are evaluated and treated.
At the Jack D. Weiler Hospital in the Bronx, N.Y., a 70-year-old woman came in with a mild fever, nausea and vomiting that was causing low blood pressure. Doctors initially thought it might be a typical seasonal illness, said Deborah White, vice chair of emergency medicine at the facility.
Then doctors in Washington, where an outbreak in a nursing home led to the first U.S. hot zone, noted on the ACEP hub that many older COVID-19 patients exhibited mainly gastrointestinal issues like nausea and diarrhea.
Back in the Bronx, the 70-year-old patient immediately hit doctors' radar screen as a potential coronavirus case. The hospital – which helps care for patients of nearby nursing homes, started grouping all elderly patients with gastrointestinal symptoms and low blood pressure together as potential COVID-19 patients, a process called cohorting.
"That became a paramount piece of information for us," White said, noting that previously such patients were often sent back home or returned to nursing homes with orders of bed rest and a simple diet. Now, however, some of those patients are testing positive. Cohorting, she noted, isn't traditionally done in such cases, but instant information-sharing allowed a rapid, important change.
"This is what we do, pivoting in the very moment," White said. "It's the bread and butter of emergency medicine." ___ Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.