Emergency Nurses Association Monitoring Novel Coronavirus Developments
January 24, 2020 • CDC Infectious Diseases novel coronavirus
ENA encourages emergency nurses to monitor CDC information on emerging infectious disease
SCHAUMBURG, Ill. (Jan. 24, 2020) – Following the announcement Friday of a second confirmed U.S. case of novel coronavirus, the Emergency Nurses Association encouraged its members and all emergency health care providers to stay vigilant in their best infectious disease screening and isolation practices as officials monitor the respiratory illness outbreak.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, coronaviruses are a large family of viruses. There are several known coronaviruses that infect people and usually only cause mild respiratory disease, such as the common cold. However, at least two previously identified coronaviruses have caused severe disease – severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus, SARS, and Middle East respiratory syndrome, MERS, coronavirus.
The two confirmed U.S. cases follow an outbreak in China that has prompted several U.S. airports to implement public health entry screenings. As new information develops, ENA President Mike Hastings, MSN, RN, CEN, called on emergency nurses to follow their current policies and best practices when screening patients for infectious diseases, and to revisit the use of personal protective equipment to limit exposure should a patient show symptoms of novel coronavirus.
“Just as ED nurses do every day, we must always be alert for patients presenting with signs and symptoms consistent with infectious diseases,” Hastings said. “Whether it be during flu season, or in cases such as the Ebola, SARS or MERS outbreaks, ED nurses should stay vigilant when screening patients and when considering what protections are needed to ensure their own safety while providing care.”
The ENA position statement “Emerging Infectious Diseases in the Emergency Care Setting” stresses, among other things, the important role ED nurses play in the early identification of infectious disease cases. Additionally, as part of the screening of patients with a possible infectious disease, ED nurses should inquire about immunization status, recent travel history and exposure to ill persons.
ENA encourages emergency health care providers to monitor the CDC website dedicated to the novel coronavirus outbreak.