Over the course of early 2020, the coronavirus disease outbreak, also known as COVID-19, has rapidly spread through major countries throughout the world. The virus was declared an official “pandemic” by the World Health Organization on March 11, 2020, and the President of the United States declared a National Emergency on March 13, 2020. While U.S. government officials and medical professionals scramble to provide the most efficient and effective care to those affected, many are still unsure of the lasting effects an unprecedented global pandemic can have on general and specialized medicine moving forward.
What we know
Each day, data surrounding the coronavirus outbreak is collected and analyzed to strategically prepare for the next phase of the virus. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, this is its likely origin: “Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses. Some cause illness in people, and others, such as canine and feline coronaviruses, only infect animals. Rarely, animal coronaviruses that infect animals have emerged to infect people and can spread between people. This is suspected to have occurred for the virus that causes COVID-19. Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) are two other examples of coronaviruses that originated from animals and then spread to people.”
The first detection of COVID-19 was sourced from Wuhan City, Hubei Province, China. Since its first detection, many cases have been found in large parts of Asia, Europe, and North America (among other continents). As the virus now spreads from person-to-person, many are being diagnosed showing active symptoms or no symptoms at all.
To better understand the coronavirus, individuals should learn about the symptoms victims can experience. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention list these guidelines for those individuals that have been exposed to the virus:
“Reported illnesses have ranged from mild symptoms to severe illness and death for confirmed coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) cases. The following symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure: fever, cough, and shortness of breath.”
For more information on COVID-19 symptoms, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Documented treatment and prevention
Treatment practices vary based on the severity of each case; however, preventative measures have become crucial to slowing down the spread of the virus globally. The term “social distancing” has now been introduced to daily routines, meaning individuals are encouraged to keep away from others by at least six feet and to avoid leaving living quarters for non-essential reasons. Medical professionals also encourage individuals to refrain from touching their faces or shared surfaces. Most of all, each person should be washing their hands frequently with soap and water.
How will this affect gynecology moving forward?
Knowing this, what are the repercussions that could affect the future of gynecology? Many factors will play a role in how appointments and examinations will be conducted. First, address transparency within your practice. Maintain an open conversation with your staff and patients about the severity of this pandemic. Safety and health always come first. During a social distancing period, non-essential medical appointments will likely be postponed. If any of your patients or staff members have been affected by the virus, contact your local health department immediately.
If medical professionals have learned one thing due to the current state of this pandemic, it is that sterilization and cleanliness are vital to maintain patient health. Cross-contamination is still a very real concern for gynecologists, even more so after the surfacing of COVID-19 around the world. Cross-contamination can compromise the safety of the practice by spreading through a number of different routes, including physical contact, airborne spread, respiratory droplet transmission, or physical objects as common vehicles. Each practice should constantly push its respective sterilization policies, ensuring staff members are consistently washing hands and taking proper precautions to avoid cross-contamination.
The risk of cross-contamination at a gynecologist’s office can be significantly reduced by single-use, disposable speculums. Physicians will use the speculum once on a single patient. Once used, they can safely dispose of the recyclable device. Physicians can be sure this disposable medical device will be the least risk-averse speculum option available.
Cyalume Medical’s SpecuLume EZ is a single-use, illuminated vaginal speculum that is a safer alternative to reusable speculums. For more information about the benefits of the SpecuLume EZ, contact Cyalume Medical. Cyalume Medical: Patient care in a new light.