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Reopening Your Dermatology Practice

Step 2: Prepare your practice

It is important to properly prepare your clinic space to ensure you, your staff, and patients continue to remain healthy and safe while reopening.

  1. Clean and disinfect your entire practice according to World Health Organization standards:

    1. 70% ethyl alcohol to disinfect small areas between uses, such as reusable dedicated equipment (for example, thermometers); OR

    2. Sodium hypochlorite at 0.5% (equivalent to 5000 ppm) for disinfecting surfaces; OR

    3. Any disinfectant products that meet the EPA’s criteria for use against SARS-CoV-2

    4. If your practice has been closed for more than seven days, you can perform your normal routine cleaning procedures as the CDC notes the virus that causes Covid-19 has not been shown to survive on surfaces longer than this time.

  2. Re-organize your practice to minimize patient contact and increase sterilization:

    1. Put up signs in visible locations to notify patients of COVID-related precautions and add markings where necessary to maintain appropriate social distance (e.g. tape marking in front of reception for patients to maintain distance from staff and each other). Download a sign template (Word download) the Academy has created.

    2. Reduce chairs in waiting room and appropriately space them apart.

    3. Remove magazines and other reading materials from patient care areas.

    4. Place additional hand sanitizers and wipes in the waiting room for patients as well as in high traffic areas for staff.

    5. Have hand sanitizer and/or a place to wash hands with soap and water in each exam room readily available.

    6. Consider keeping all doors open on the patient path from the entrance through the office to the exit.

    7. Check OSHA’s PPE standards (29 CFR 1910 Subpart I) and ensure there is enough appropriate PPE for all your staff. Review CDC guidance on how to optimize the supply of face masks.

    8. Determine if physical barriers would be helpful to protect staff from patients exposed to COVID-19. For example, is there a sneeze guard that could be installed to limit contact between front desk staff and patients?

    9. Screen patients for flu-like symptoms, loss of taste or smell and history of COVID-19 exposure; consider non-contact temperature screening as well. If COVID-19 is suspected, refer the patient to their primary care physician for evaluation and reschedule their appointment to a later date. Consider using a screening tool. Contact your malpractice carrier to consult on COVID-19 related care including expectations on patient pre-screening.

    10. Consider having patients wait in their car or outside the office until called or texted on their cellphone.

    11. Patients should be seen alone unless they need a caregiver (or parent for children) with them at the visit. Other companions should wait in their car or outside the office.

    12. Masks and eye protection should be worn by staff interacting with patients and patients should come into the office wearing a cloth mask.

    13. Limit other visitors to the practice such as vendors or suppliers. Only allow essential staff and patients into the practice and consider having virtual meetings when available.

  3. Implement digital tools to assist your practice in maximizing social distancing where appropriate:

    1. Connections must be compliant with HIPAA and use web browsers with encrypted communications, such as Safari, Chrome, or Firefox.

    2. If you have an electronic health record (EHR), contact your vendor to determine if there are any applications you can install to reduce in-person contact. Examples include patient portals, online bill pay, electronic orders for staff, electronic prescriptions, and electronic lab orders.

    3. Visit the Academy’s Health IT resource center for specific guidance on digital tools to adapt in your practice during this time.

    4. Continue using teledermatology for appropriate patients. Realize that the relaxed regulations may revert to pre-national health emergency rules once the emergency is over.

All content solely developed by the American Academy of Dermatology

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