Radiology Department Preparedness for COVID-19: Radiology Scientific Expert Panel
Mossa-Basha M et al. Department of Radiology, University of Washington School of Medicine
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Introduction: The Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic began in December 2019 in Wuhan, China. The outbreak is due to severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infection (1). Approximately 81,000 patients have been infected in China (2). Although infection rates are said to be controlled in China through severe public health measures, Italy (more than 10,000 cases) and Iran (more than 8000 cases) have seen exponential increases in the number of infected individuals. Other than China, Italy, and Iran, most countries have had approximately 2 months to prepare their responses to the COVID-19 pandemic. These responses are led by public health authorities of national governments in coordination with local governments and hospitals. Due to the nature of the emergency in China, chest CT findings (eg, peripheral ground-glass infiltrates and/or organizing pneumonia) temporarily became part of official diagnostic criteria of COVID-19 as a surrogate for viral nucleic acid testing (1). With improved disease understanding, chest CT findings are no longer part of the diagnostic criteria for COVID-19. Instead, at present, the focus of most radiology departments outside of China has shifted from diagnostic capability to preparedness. Radiology preparedness is a set of policies and procedures directly applicable to imaging departments designed (a) to achieve sufficient capacity for continued operation during a health care emergency of unprecedented proportions, (b) to support the care of patients with COVID-19, and (c) to maintain radiologic diagnostic and interventional support for the entirety of the hospital and health system. Because of varying infection control policies (both nationally and regionally), steps for radiology preparedness for COVID-19 will vary between institutions and clinics. The Radiology Editorial Board has assembled a team of radiologists who are active in coordination, development, and implementation of radiology preparedness policies for COVID-19. Their policies have been developed in conjunction with top infection control experts at their respective world-class healthcare systems. In the sections below, each panel member describes their department’s top priorities for COVID-19 preparedness in their environment. The Editorial Board hopes that readers may find one or more the highlighted healthcare systems to be similar to their own, providing impetus for action or confirmation of your current preparedness activities.