What to Do If a Staff Member or Patient Tests Positive
By Joey Berlin


As cases of COVID-19 continue to climb, the greater the chance it will find its way to your office. If it hasn’t happened already, no doubt you’ve been bracing for that possibility for months.

The Texas Medical Association is here to make sure you’re prepared.

The TMA COVID-19 Task Force has created a guide for what to do when someone in your office – whether a staff member or a patient – tests positive for the disease. The guide includes links to important information on disinfection, work-restriction, and legal and ethical resources from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Texas law, and more.

In addition, TMA has published a podcast that features Thomas Kaspar, MD, an infectious disease specialist and chair of TMA’s Committee on Infectious Disease, and TMA public health policy analyst Meredith Vinez discussing what to do if a staff member or a patient tests positive for COVID-19. The podcast is also embedded below.

TMA’s guide explains three steps to take following a positive test:

  • Follow routine cleaning and disinfection procedures – The guide contains links for recommended environmental control and personal protective equipment (PPE) practices from CDC and EPA.
  • Notify your staff of the potential exposure, and implement appropriate work restrictions – The document includes an adaptation of CDC’s Healthcare Personnel Assessment Guide, which breaks down how to handle at-risk staff members, plus tips on determining when people with confirmed COVID-19 may have become infectious.
  • Notify any patients who might have been exposed and recommend appropriate public health guidance – Included is an adaptation of CDC’s Public Health Guidance for Community-Related Exposure chart, as well as links to ethical and legal guidance on patient privacy laws and regulations.

The guide also offers tips on what to do if you face a staff shortage but have health care personnel (HCP) who have been exposed to COVID-19. In that situation, it explains, if the staff member is not known to be infected and is asymptomatic, that staffer can continue to work.

“These HCP should still report temperature and absence of symptoms each day before starting work,” the guide says. “These HCP should wear a face mask (for source control) while at work for 14 days after the exposure event. A face mask instead of a cloth face covering should be used by these HCP for source control during this time period while in the facility. After this time period, these HCP should revert to their facility policy regarding universal source control during the pandemic.”

TMA’s guide also includes resources on establishing an ongoing plan, in concert with your local health department, to respond to COVID-19 exposure; how to do your part in contact tracing for the disease; and more.

Find more information, tools, and guides on TMA’s COVID-19 Resource Center, which is updated regularly.

Last Updated On

August 05, 2020

Originally Published On

July 08, 2020

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