Best Practices to Minimize Risk in Your Practice
Monday, March 23, 2020
If you’ve chosen to keep your practice open, make sure you’re taking the proper steps and precautions to minimize health risks for both yourself and your patients:
- Don’t make assumptions. All age groups can have underlying health issues that can make them more prone to get the virus.
- USE EPA-approved cleaners. While we appreciate the desire to use natural cleaner, they do not have what is needed to kill the virus. The cleaners must have chemicals approved by the EPA, which you can find on this list.
- Sanitize ALL equipment. Make sure you clean ANY equipment that is used with ANY patient between seeing patients. This includes the adjusting tables, massage tables, hand tools used for treatment, etc. We do not yet know how long the virus can live on hard surfaces. Frequently disinfect phones, keyboards copiers, etc.
- Remove waiting room “extras.” That includes reading material and magazines. For doctors that treat pediatrics, pull all toys, games, and books out of the waiting room. Clean and store them until this situation is stabilized. There may be a later recommendation to acquire new items, depending on what we learn about the virus.
- Give yourself an hour before arriving and your first appointment. This will give you enough time to ensure proper cleaning of the entire office.
- Wear gloves while cleaning. This is to protect yourself and your patients.
- Provide alcohol based sanitizers that are 60 – 95% alcohol-based to patients and staff. They should be at the reception desk and outside all treatment rooms. Staff should also use sanitizer prior to and after treating a patient.
- No touch is best. Provide no-touch waste receptacles in all areas of your office and exam rooms.
- Mind the details. Thoroughly disinfect door handles, light switches, counter tops, writing tools after each patient.
- Washing hands with soap and water is critical. Scrub for 20 seconds – simply sing “Happy birthday” twice. Provide and use single-use towels (not fabric).
- No paper sign-ins. Your receptionist should check patients in on the computer rather than having them sign in. This minimizes touch to paper, clipboards, pens, etc.
- If at all possible, avoid cross-scheduling. One patient at a time ensures the lowest risk.
- Discourage patients from bringing more than one person with them.
- Practice social distancing. If you absolutely must have multiple patients in the lobby at the same time, force social distancing by positioning chairs six or more feet apart, and remove extra chairs or block them off.
- Make a car “waiting room.” Consider asking patients and their companions to wait in their individual cars until their appointment time.
For more ideas about preparing your workspace, review these tips from OSHA.