The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) has released new guidelines to help GPs care for patients with COVID-19 in their home.
The updated Home-care guidelines for patients with COVID-19 includes advice and information on:
- supporting patients through a COVID-19 diagnosis
- determining medical and social risk factors and disease severity
- determining home-care suitability and the appropriate monitoring protocol
- escalating care where necessary.
It follows a package of new measures to help GPs care for COVID-19-positive patients.
RACGP President Dr Karen Price said the updated guidelines come at a vital time.
“COVID-19 case numbers are set to spike across Australia and we must be prepared,” she said.
“Some 80 per cent of COVID-19-positive patients will only experience mild symptoms and can be appropriately cared for in their homes.
“Caring for people with COVID-19 in a private home, residential aged care facility or supported accommodation makes sense.
“Patients can receive holistic care from a GP in the comfort of their own home, and we can minimise the impact on our entire healthcare system, including freeing up hospital beds for those with severe illness and other non-COVID-19 related healthcare needs.
Price said it also minimises the risk of transmission in crowded hospitals.
“Our hospitals are already under the pump and the workload will only grow, including caring for unvaccinated patients suffering from severe effects of COVID-19 and playing catch up after delays in elective surgery and people putting off routine healthcare during the pandemic,” she said.
“So, the mission in front of us is to do everything we can to keep people out of hospital and care for most COVID-19-positive patients in their own homes.
At present, most patients being cared for outside of the hospital system have mild illness, but as the country opens up and case numbers rise, increasingly people with moderate disease may be cared for under this model.
“We must ensure patients receive the care and support they need based on their individual circumstances as well as escalation pathways for admission to hospital if required, Price said.
“GPs are playing a crucial role supporting patients through a COVID-19 diagnosis and providing care, support and monitoring for these patients in their homes.”
In updating the guidelines, the RACGP consulted with its COVID-19 Working Group, GP clinicians, the HealthPathways community, members of the National COVID-19 Clinical Evidence Taskforce and Medical Defence Organisations.