Stephen Schuster, MD, of Penn Medicine discussed testing for COVID-19, telemedicine and how they are adjusting their treatment of patients with aggressive lymphomas during the pandemic.
Couple logistic considerations and one is do we test these patients for COVID prior to proceeding? When the pandemic first started, we really were not able to get a test with a rapid turnaround time, so we used clinical criteria to decide whether to proceed: fever, respiratory symptoms, fatigue unrelated to disease, chest CT findings, and made a decision based on those criteria. Now we can get testing in 45 minutes. So, when we do our viral testing, we do a nasal swab prior to proceeding within a week of proceeding we test for COVID at the same time. So, that part has become easy and we haven’t had any people that have tested positive that we have not been able to proceed with.
The other thing I might mention with regard to how it’s influenced our practice is once patients are beyond the critical first two weeks, we do many of the assessments remotely through telemedicine. [We] interview the patients with the caretaker and we get local labs often drawn at home and we can do the visits virtually. If there’s an issue of course they come in and we see them. So, we do see patients in clinic, but we try not to bring patients to clinic unless there’s a real need.