The ECRI Institute launched a resource center on its website to help providers prepare for potential threats associated with the Wuhan coronavirus.
The Coronavirus Outbreak Preparedness Center, which is free to the public, includes lists of supplemental devices and supplies as well as guidance on how clinicians can prepare for viral outbreaks.
Although only 11 U.S. patients have been diagnosed with the 2019 novel coronavirus, hospitals should still be preparing for a more widespread threat that could impact them, said Dr. Andrew Furman, executive director of clinical excellence at the ECRI Institute.
"They (hospitals) should be looking at this," he said. "The more you are ready for what could come in, there is no panic in the room, everyone feels comfortable in their role, the patient and family sense that same level of comfort because they know they are in good hands to get the care they need."
Some hospitals are already taking steps to prepare for the coronavirus. Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville set up alerts in its electronic health record to patients entering the hospital with a fever or respiratory symptoms, and then are asked if they have recently visited China.
The virus was first identified in Wuhan, China, in December. As of Feb. 5, there have been more than 490 deaths globally from the virus. None of the U.S. patients who have contracted the coronavirus have died.
The online resources are based on lessons learned from previous outbreaks, particularly Ebola and severe acute respiratory syndrome, another coronavirus, which is also known as SARS. ECRI offered a similar online resource center during those outbreaks, but Furman said the responses were much more reactionary. "We have an opportunity here to step forward before this is a major event in the U.S.," he said.
Among the materials part of the resource center is a list of portable ventilators rated by ECRI and a list of suppliers that offer equipment like respirators, shoe covers, masks and gloves.
Hospitals typically have an extra supply of equipment in case of outbreaks or other disaster events, but Furman said it's still a good time for hospitals to review the extra equipment they have on hand.
"Part of this is about being proactive and prepared," he said. "Are they (the supplies) outdated? Is there an adequate supply? Is the equipment appropriate for what you would need for this particular concern of coronavirus?"