What is the Current Standard of Care for PPE and Endoscopy Cases?

CC Thompson et al. Gastointestinal Endoscopy (EPUB), in a letter to the editor, respond to two recent studies on SARS-CoV-2 virus/COVID-19 and provide recommendations for PPE use in this era of COVID-19.

Here’s a link to manuscript: COVID-19 in Endoscopy: Time to do more?

Key points:

  • Reduce non-urgent cases. “We have cut our daily endoscopy volume by over 80% and closed our ambulatory endoscopy practice.”
  • Increase the use of telemedicine. “At present, telemedicine or virtual visits make up 91% of our upcoming clinic appointments.”
  • Physical distancing as advocated recently by WHO throughout a patient’s time in the endoscopy unit is stressed in the papers, with a 6-foot minimum between individuals.
  • Suggests “the need for a separate toilet as part of the isolation to minimize spread of infection due to bioaerosols from the toilet plume”
  • Our hospital system has recently changed policy to mandate that all employees wear surgical masks at all times while in the hospital and attest to their wellness online before reporting to work.
  • We suggest labeling each computer so the same provider uses that computer and chair for the entire day, and separating by at least 6 feet.
  • All endoscopic procedures (upper endoscopy, colonoscopy, EUS, ERCP) are aerosol-generating, referencing studies that show contamination of the endoscopist’s face during routine procedures. This makes all endoscopic procedures high risk from an infectious standpoint, and appropriate PPE is
    recommended… It makes little sense for healthcare providers to perform
    aerosolizing procedures, with patients coughing or passing gas on them, while not wearing an N95 mask or better
  • “It is important to use full PPE for all endoscopic procedures while in a pandemic such as this especially in areas with community spread, because no one is truly low risk given our ongoing difficulties with testing.”
  • “The mask can be reused as long as it is functional, not soiled, and not used in a suspected or COVIDpositive patient. It is important to cover the N95 to prevent soiling.”
  • “A study from China showed that no medical staff working in high-risk departments who wore N95s and practiced strict hand hygiene regardless of patient’s infection status became infected.”
  • “Testing all patients before high-risk procedures such as endoscopy is likely the best approach; however, this will depend on significant expansion of testing capabilities. Hopefully, the development of point-of-care testing with rapid results and increasing testing availability will make this a reality soon”

My take (in part from authors): “We are living through an unprecedented time and are all trying our best to protect our patients and ourselves under suboptimal conditions of limited PPE, limited testing, and limited data. ”  The recommendations in this article are based mainly on expert opinion and may need modifications based on new data and circumstances.

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IOIBD (International Organization for the Study of Iinflammatory Bowel Disease) Recommendations (#76) for IBD Patients with Regard to COVID-19:

Full link: IOIBD Update on COVID19 for Patients with Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis (3/26/20)

 

 

Pipeline Medications for Ulcerative Colitis (Part 1) & Face Mask Shortages

Before getting to today’s post, I wanted to provide a link on why we are desperately short of face masks in the midst of this crisis: NY Times: How the World’s Richest Country Ran Out of a 75-Cent Face Mask

An excerpt:

The answer to why we’re running out of protective gear involves a very American set of capitalist pathologies — the rise and inevitable lure of low-cost overseas manufacturing, and a strategic failure, at the national level and in the health care industry, to consider seriously the cascading vulnerabilities that flowed from the incentives to reduce costs…

Given the vast global need for masks — in the United States alone, fighting the coronavirus will consume 3.5 billion face masks, according to an estimate by the Department of Health and Human Services — corporate generosity will fall short. People in the mask business say it will take a few months, at a minimum, to significantly expand production…

Hospitals began to run out of masks for the same reason that supermarkets ran out of toilet paper — because their “just-in-time” supply chains, which call for holding as little inventory as possible to meet demand, are built to optimize efficiency, not resiliency.

My take: Conserve, conserve, conserve PPE -supply chains meeting the need is NOT imminent.

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Several articles from Gastroenterology highlight emerging medications for ulcerative colitis (UC).

Two of the studies:

  • WJ Sandborn et al. Gastroenterol 2020; 158: 550-61.
  • WJ Sandborn et al. Gastroenterol 2020; 158: 562-72.

The first study was a phase 2 randomized trial of etrasimod which is an oral selective sphingosine 1-phosphate receptor modulator.  A total of 156 patients were randomized into 3 groups: placebo, 1 mg etrasimod, and 2 mg etrasimod.

Key findings (graphical abstract):

In the second phase 3, double-blind, double-dummy study, Sandborn et al show that, after the initial 2 intravenous doses,  among patients with an initial response subcutaneous vedolizumab (108 mg every 2 weeks) had similar effectiveness to intravenous vedolizumab (300 mg every 8 weeks); both SC and IV vedolizumab resulted in higher clinical remission rates compared to placebo at 52 weeks in the 216 patients: 46.2%, 42.6%, and 14.3% respectively.

Full text link: Efficacy and Safety of Vedolizumab Subcutaneous Formulation in a Randomized Trial of Patients With Ulcerative Colitis