AOP publishes coronavirus advice

Optometrists are advised that patients with cold or flu symptoms can be asked to book their appointment for when they have fully recovered

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The AOP has published advice for members on the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).

In its statement, the AOP emphasised that it is highly unlikely that patients who present to an optical practice with cold or flu-like symptoms will have COVID-19.

“If patients inform you that they have cold or flu like symptoms before they arrive for their appointment then it is acceptable to advise them to rebook their appointment for when they have fully recovered,” the guidance states.

“If the patient only advises you of cold or flu-like symptoms when they present to the practice, given the prolonged duration of close contact, it is acceptable to advise the patient that you are unable to see them, and they should rebook on another day when they have recovered.”

The AOP guidance also covers basic hygiene measures, what to do if optometrists suspect that a patient may have coronavirus and what steps practitioners should take if they are concerned that they have contracted COVID-19.

PHE guidance for primary care workers

Public Health England (PHE) has also published interim guidance for UK primary care workers aimed at preventing the spread of COVID-19.

The document, which is published on PHE’s website, emphasises the importance of identifying potential cases as soon as possible, preventing the transmission of the virus to other patients and staff and avoiding direct physical contact with patients who may have the infection.

If concerns are present about a patient, primary care workers are encouraged to isolate the patient and obtain specialist advice to determine whether the patient is at risk of the COVID-19 infection.

The interim guidance highlights that the infection is most likely to occur in patients who have recently returned from China, Hong Kong, Japan, Macau, Malaysia, Republic of Korea, Singapore, Taiwan or Thailand.

Therefore, taking an accurate travel history is an important part of identifying potential risk.

The guidelines deal with a range of situations that primary care workers may be faced with, including what actions to take when an unwell patient with a relevant travel history presents to practice and how to properly clean a room after a high-risk patient is seen in practice.

If a patient calls to make an appointment and it becomes clear they may be at risk of COVID-19, then a face-to-face assessment should be avoided.

The clinician should instead call a local secondary care infection specialist to discuss safe assessment of the patient.

PHE advises that in the event of an at-risk patient presenting to practice, they should be placed in another room away from other patients and staff.

A physical examination should be avoided and a clinical history should be taken by telephone if required.

If a physical examination is in progress when the risk becomes evident, the clinician should stop the examination, withdraw from the room and wash their hands with soap and water.

OT endeavours to keep the most up-to-date news on our website and this information was correct when published. However, the situation regarding COVID-19 is rapidly evolving. Please check OT’s rolling optics-specific coverage for the latest news and guidance on COVID-19.

Image credit: Pixabay/Darko Stojanovic