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Separate Fever Clinics Prevent the Spread of COVID-19 and Offload Emergency Resources: Analysis from a large tertiary hospital in China

By Jiangshan Wang, Liang Zong, Jinghong Zhang, Han Sun, Joseph Harold Walline, Pengxia Sun, Shengyong Xu, Yan Li, Chunting Wang, Jihai Liu, Fan Li, Jun Xu, Yi Li, Xuezhong Yu, Huadong Zhu

Posted 06 Apr 2020
medRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2020.04.03.20051813

ObjectivesCOVID-19 began spreading widely in China in January 2020. Outpatient "Fever Clinics" (FCs), instituted during the SARS epidemic in 2003 were upgraded to provide COVID-19 screening and prevention attached to large tertiary hospitals. We sought to analyze the effect of upgraded FCs to detecting COVID-19 at our institution. DesignA population-based cross-sectional study. ParticipantsA total of 6,365 patients were screened in the FC. MethodsThe FC of Peking Union Medical College Hospital (PUMCH) was upgraded on January 20, 2020. We performed a retrospective study of patients presenting to the FC between December 12, 2019 to February 29, 2020, covering a period of 40 days before and after upgrading the FC. All necessary data, including baseline patient information, diagnoses, follow-up conditions for critical patients, transfer information between the FC and emergency department (ED) were collected and analyzed. Results6,365 patients were screened in the FC, among whom 2,192 patients were screened before January 21, 2020, while 3,453 were screened afterwards. Screening results showed that upper respiratory infection was the major disease associated with fever. Compared to before the outbreak, patients transferred from the FC to ED decreased significantly [39.21% vs 15.75%, p<0.001] and tended to spend more time in the FC [55 vs 203mins, p<0.001]. For critically-ill patients waiting for a screening result, the total length of stay in the FC was 22mins before the outbreak, compared to 442mins after the outbreak (p< 0.001). The number of in-hospital deaths of critical-care patients seen first in the FC was 9 of 29 patients before the outbreak and 21 of 38 after (p<0.050). Nineteen COVID-19 cases were confirmed in the FC, but no other patients or medical care providers were cross-infected. ConclusionThe work-load of the FC increased after the COVID-19 outbreak and effectively prevented COVID-19 from spreading in the hospital,as well as offload ED resources.

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