The Pandemic in Family Practice – a Practice Report on SARS-CoV-2

DOI: 10.3238/zfa.2020.0514-0520

german translation / full article

Dinah Murr, Jörg Schelling

Keywords: SARS-CoV-2 family medicine general practice patient care workflow

BackgroundSince late 2019, a new coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2 has begun to spread around the globe, originating from the central Chinese city of Wuhan. To provide “sufficient“ medical care to all affected patients, it is important to reduce its speed of spreading. Family medicine plays a critical role as a gathering place for key patient groups (vulnerable, infected and potentially infected). It also offers possibilities to detect infections both locally and early. Subsequently, containment measures can be introduced swiftly if deemed necessary. The present study examines first effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on patient care and workflow in one family practice.MethodsBased on all phone calls, this study focuses on two periods of observation: March 23rd to 27th (1) and April 20th to 24th (2). Phone calls were handled by two or three receptionists at a time. Data gathering was conducted on a standardized spreadsheet that followed five categories. Two or three of the family physicians conducted callbacks if necessary.ResultsThe total number of phone calls were 762, predominantly in the morning. Throughout the study period, there was a decrease of 34.7 %. Numbers of phone calls related to Corona were rare and declining, as did communications related to “other infections”. Furthermore, “chronic diseases” triggered only a few and quite stable number of calls. A larger number was caused by patients experiencing acute, non-infectious illnesses. Administrative calls were the most frequent and increasing category observed.ConclusionsPossibly people became more “Corona-aware” and therefore get in contact more rarely. As only a small number of patients with chronic diseases was calling, medical care could possibly deteriorate over time. Raising phone calls for organizational questions seems promising to amplify contacts. Certification as “safe practice” may increase trust of patients. Looking back to the time of this survey medical staff should be aware of the burning up dangers of the corona crisis which actually seems to be the case in autumn in Germany. KeywordsSARS-CoV-2; family medicine; general practice; patient care; workflow

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