EXPLAINER

How COVID patients are triaged by risk factors and disease treatment

What happens after I test positive on a rapid antigen test? 

After a positive rapid antigen test (RAT) is registered on the Service NSW website or app, a patient will be asked to complete an initial short online questionnaire on the website or app.

If the questionnaire determines the patient is low risk, they will be sent self-management information and will be required to isolate for a minimum of seven days.

If the patient is determined to be at an increased risk and they meet the criteria for disease modifying treatment they will be sent a more detailed survey.

The second online questionnaire will determine their risk status and symptoms.

If you are not moderate or high-risk patient, you may be directed to self-management support.

What happens after I test positive on a PCR test 

A positive PCR test on the other hand will automatically register a patient on the NSW Patient Flow Systems (PFP).

The local health district may choose to use information from the PFP for further triage.

The patient will be contacted by the LHD COVID team according to the information gathered and either monitored or asked to self-manage.

What can doctors do if their patients are positive? 

For those being managed by their GPs, patients can be referred to their LHD via NSW Health COVID-19 Care at Home line 1800 960 933 (8:30am until 8:30pm).

What if I am high risk or experiencing severe symptoms? 

The patient will be contacted by the LHD COVID speciality teams if they are moderate and high risk patients.

If experiencing moderate or severe symptoms, people can call NSW Health COVID-19 Care at Home line 1800 960 933 (8.30am until 8.30pm).

If requiring disease modifying treatments, people will be managed according to local pathways such as hospital admission or virtual care.

There is also a virtual adult respiratory assessment form which will be used to assess the patients breathing if determined to be needed by the LHD teams.

Who are high-risk patients? 

High risk adults and children include those who are immunosuppressed, have a serious chronic or complex condition, pregnant, or children with severe obesity. These are explained in more detail below.

Those who might be considered high-risk or in need of disease modifying treatment include the immunosuppressed, including: current or within 3 months of treatment for cancer, organ transplant recipient, on immunosuppressant medication or have an immune deficiency.

They may be someone with a serious chronic health problem including heart, lung, kidney, brain, nerves or muscles, metabolic, those who are seeing a specialist four or more times per year, those taking four or more different medications daily.

Otherwise they could be someone requiring equipment to help their breathing - e.g. CPAP, BiPAP, home oxygen, someone who needs equipment to help with their feeding - e.g. nasogastric tube, gastrostomy (PEG), a child with severe obesity: indicated by weight over 99th percentile for age or Type 2 Diabetes (treated with oral medication)

Those with severe asthma, such as those admitted to hospital four or more times in the last year, admitted to intensive care because of their asthma, or those on monoclonal treatments for asthma.

What care is available for high-risk patients? 

Patients with high risk and moderate symptoms are managed by the LHD according to local pathways. This may include increased monitoring, or involvement of patient's specialists for example.

What are additional high-risk social factors? 

  • Geographical remoteness from higher level care
  • Concerns about access to housing, food, medication or other care at home
  • Concerns about personal safety at home, including violence, abuse and neglect
  • Caring for other household members
  • Financial concerns

What levels of care are available if I end up in hospital?

If an individual's medical condition requires clinical interventions and monitoring that cannot be delivered in the community, they will be admitted into an acute COVID-19-specific inpatient ward.

If a patient with COVID-19 deteriorates and reaches an agreed maximum level of care which cannot be provided safely in the ward environment, they will be referred to the intensive care unit.

The assessment on the appropriate level of care will be carried out by a medical personnel and based on clinical assessment criteria.

This story How COVID patients are triaged by risk factors and disease treatment first appeared on Bega District News.