The pandemic of COVID-19 has been particularly severe in the New York City area, which has had one of the highest concentrations of cases in the USA. In March 2020, the EDs of New York-Presbyterian Hospital, a 10-hospital health system in the region, began to experience a rapid surge in patients with COVID-19 symptoms. Emergency physicians were faced with a disease that they knew little about that quickly overwhelmed resources. A significant amount of attention has been placed on the problem of limited supply of ventilators and intensive care beds for critically ill patients in the setting of the ongoing global pandemic. Relatively less has been given to the issue that precedes it: the demand on resources posed by patients who are not yet critically ill but are unwell enough to seek care in the ED. We describe here how at one institution, a cross-campus ED physician working group produced a care pathway to guide clinicians and ensure the fair and effective allocation of resources in the setting of the developing public health crisis. This ‘crisis clinical pathway’ focused on using clinical evaluation for medical decision making and maximising benefit to patients throughout the system.
- emergency department operations
- disaster planning and response
- infectious diseases
- major incidents
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Handling editor Ellen J Weber
Contributors All authors were members of the working group that developed the pathway. EHS wrote the draft of the manuscript. BMF led the group and contributed substantially to the draft. DJB, LDM and MS all made significant contribution to edits and revisions of the manuscript.
Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.
Competing interests None declared.
Patient consent for publication Not required.
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.
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