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News & Press: COVID-19

WSPA Guidance to Pharmacy Practitioners for Safe Practice During COVID-19 Outbreak

Thursday, March 5, 2020   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Jenny Arnold
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WSPA Guidance to Pharmacy Practitioners for Safe Practice During COVID-19 Outbreak

Background: Pharmacies are essential to the health of Washington State residents, as timely and accurate medication delivery is foundational to the treatment of acute and chronic diseases. Therefore, it is essential that we maintain the health of pharmacy staff so that pharmacies can maintain their operations. Please review this information and consider adopting these strategies in your pharmacies.

As patients look to pharmacy staff for guidance, please use calming and reassuring language. Your help to prevent panic and communicate accurate information is essential for our communities. Watch the CDC, Department of Health and your County Public Health Page for accurate information, and resources.

Prevention: Pharmacies should implement strategies to prevent person to person transmission of infection. Frequent, effective handwashing, use of hand sanitizer and wiping frequently touched surfaces with an EPA approved biocide should be common practices. Staff should strive to maintain a distance greater than 3 feet from patients, and greater than 6 feet for patients actively coughing. Although this is not always possible, emphasis should be given when patients are coughing and sick. Communicate to patients the importance of sick patients staying home, sending a friend to the pharmacy instead, or using the drive through when possible. Currently, SARS-CoV-2 virus has a relatively low estimated transmission rate of 0.5% in the general public.

Exposure: If a patient sick with COVID19 visits a pharmacy and talked with pharmacy staff, the exposure risk as classified by the CDC is generally low risk. With low risk exposures the CDC recommends that health care providers self-monitor for illness. “Self-monitoring means Health Care Provider should monitor themselves for fever by taking their temperature twice a day and remain alert for respiratory symptoms (e.g., cough, shortness of breath, sore throat).” Fever is either measured temperature >100.0°F or subjective fever in healthy individuals. As mentioned above, individuals who develop symptoms should not go to work, call in sick and self-quarantine at home until they no longer have a fever and their symptoms improve. Unless at risk for severe illness, individuals do not need to be tested for COVID19 or seek care.

Early Prescription Fills: Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler issued Emergency Order No. 20-01 today directing insurance companies to allow for a one-time early refill of covered prescription medications. Carriers can limit early refills to certain medications such as opioids, benzodiazepines and stimulants.

Planning: Pharmacies should begin to develop emergency plans based on the potential for absenteeism due to illness in their staff. WSPA has already heard from many chains they are developing this guidance. This is an evolving situation which may eventually be worsened by drug shortages. The WSPA will continue to share information between state and local public health staff and our pharmacy community.

Washington State COVID-19 Help Line: 1-800-525-0127 and press # or call your county specific phone line

Resources:
- DOH Novel Coronavirus Outbreak 2020 Healthcare Provider Resources and Recommendations. https://www.doh.wa.gov/Emergencies/NovelCoronavirusOutbreak2020/HealthcareProviders
-CDC Healthcare Personnel with Potential Exposure to COVID-19.
https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/hcp/guidance-risk-assesment-hcp.html
-
CDC Interim Guidance for Healthcare Facilities: Preparing for Community Transmission of COVID-19 in the United States. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/healthcare-facilities/guidance-hcf.html
-EPA Registered Antimicrobial Products for Use Against Novel Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 https://www.epa.gov/sites/production/files/2020-03/documents/sars-cov-2-list_03-03-2020.pdf


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