News | Coronavirus (COVID-19) | April 10, 2020

University of Washington Issues Radiology Policies for COVID-19

Policies and Guidelines for COVID-19 Preparedness: Experiences from the University of Washington

#COVID19 #Coronavirus #2019nCoV #Wuhanvirus #SARScov2 Chest radiography through glass. Technologists position the portable x-ray unit outside the patient room, with the tube peering through the wire-reinforced isolation room window (A). AP chest x-ray through obtained is of diagnostic quality (B).

Chest radiography through glass. Technologists position the portable X-ray unit outside the patient room, with the tube peering through the wire-reinforced isolation room window (A). AP chest X-ray through obtained is of diagnostic quality (B). Courtesy of the journal Radiology

April 10, 2020 — Radiology departments must prepare for patient surges through streamlined approaches to imaging that will limit exposures to healthcare workers and patients, according to a new article published in Radiology. Researchers in Seattle, where the COVID-19 pandemic initially presented in the U.S., discuss the processes that have been implemented at the University of Washington in managing the COVID-19 pandemic as well in preparing for patient surges, which may provide important guidance for other radiology departments who are in the early stages of preparation and management.

The Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic initially presented in the United States in the greater Seattle area, and has rapidly progressed across the nation in the past 2 months, with the United States having the highest number of cases in the world. Radiology departments play a critical role in policy and guideline development both for the department and for the institutions, specifically in planning diagnostic screening, triage, and management of patients. In addition, radiology workflows, volumes and access must be optimized in preparation for the expected COVID-19 patient surges. This article discusses the processes that have been implemented at the University of Washington in managing the COVID-19 pandemic as well in preparing for patient surges, which may provide important guidance for other radiology departments who are in the early stages of preparation and management.

Essential Policies and Guidelines

The essential policies and guidelines established include:

  • Radiology policy goals are to reduce COVID-19-related morbidity and mortality through early diagnosis, appropriate treatment and prevention of disease dissemination. 
  • Imaging currently is not routinely used to screen for COVID-19 unless access to RT-PCR results for COVID-19 is limited. 
  • Postponing elective imaging and procedures will preserve resources and hospital beds, while also limiting patient population exposures.
  • Determination of time-sensitivity of procedures and imaging tests is by consensus with input from radiologists, patients and/or ordering clinicians.

The article also outlines details on elective imaging exams, lab testing, imaging of COVID-19 positive or suspected patients, protection of radiology staff, room cleaning, sick or exposed employees, invasive procedures in COVID-19 patients, distribution of patients for imaging procedures, radiology faculty and staff protections, enterprise-wide coordination and communication and disaster preparedness.

For more information: RSNA.org/COVID-19

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