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COVID-19 Patients May Require ENT Consults for Varied Reasons

Otolaryngologists should use PAPR, N95 masks, other protective strategies to avoid infection

MONDAY, April 20, 2020 (HealthDay News) — Patients with COVID-19 may require ear, nose, and throat (ENT) consultations for many reasons, including tracheotomy, and protective strategies can prevent infection of otolaryngologists, according to a case series study accepted for publication in Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery.

Chong Cui, from the Institutes of Biomedical Sciences at Fudan University in Shanghai, and colleagues identified 20 hospitalized COVID-19 patients requiring ENT consultation from three hospitals to describe the patients requiring consultation and explore the infection control strategies implemented.

The researchers found that 95 percent of the patients were in severe or critical condition. Overall, six tracheotomies were performed; outcomes were mixed, with two deaths, two patients comatose, and all living patients still hospitalized. Epistaxis, pharyngitis, nasal congestion, hyposmia, rhinitis, otitis externa, dizziness, and tinnitus were listed as other consults. Powered air-supply filter respirators (PAPR) were used for tracheotomy or bleeding control at all hospitals. For other complaints, PAPR or N95-equivalent masks plus full protective clothing were used. There were no reports of inpatient ENT providers becoming infected. No providers were infected at the Eye and ENT Hospital of Fudan University after implementation of infection control strategies for outpatient clinics, emergency visits, and surgeries.

“Otolaryngologists play an indispensable role in the treatment of COVID-19 patients, but due to the inherent nature of their work are at high risk of exposure,” the authors write. “Establishment of strategies of caring for general ENT patients during COVID-19 outbreak can protect health care workers.”

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