Your practice should only conduct consultations with patients with respiratory symptoms suggestive of COVID-19 if it has the appropriate personal protective equipment and capacity to manage the infection control requirements. If this is not available, refer patients to a local GP-led COVID-19 respiratory clinic. Alternatively, your practice can seek advice from the local public health unit on where to refer the patient for treatment or testing.
All patients who present with respiratory symptoms should be managed according to the Department of Health and Aged Care’s Guidance on the use of personal protective equipment for health care workers in the context of COVID-19 until their COVID-19 status is confirmed.
It is recommended that all members of the practice team dealing with patients attending face-to-face consultations with respiratory symptoms use standard and droplet precaution personal protective equipment, including:
All patients suspected or confirmed of having COVID-19 should wear a correctly fitted surgical mask for the duration of their consultation (including in waiting areas), unless otherwise directed by staff, such as when conducting a test. Where compliance cannot be achieved (eg with some children, where the patient may have a cognitive impairment, or where the patient refuses), the person should be immediately isolated in a separate room away from practice team members and other patients, or be asked to exit the practice. The initial consultation can then be conducted via phone (using a practice phone if the person has been isolated in a consultation room, or mobile phone if they have exited the practice).
All face-to-face consultations with patients presenting with respiratory illness should occur in a designated area that ideally has a separate entrance and exit for patients to use. Members of the practice team should not leave the designated area where the consultations are taking place while wearing personal protective equipment.
Never consult a patient who is not suspected of having COVID-19 after consulting patients suspected or confirmed of having COVID-19, without fully removing personal protective equipment and performing hand hygiene and environmental cleaning.
At times, in some regions in Australia, the wearing of surgical face masks is required for all practice team members as a public health directive, where physical distancing is not possible or in all patient-facing areas. Check the current advice from your state or territory health department.
Unless stipulated by your state or territory health department (as above), there is no requirement to wear personal protective equipment for these consultations, unless determined clinically necessary