Infectious Diseases Society of America Guidelines on Infection Prevention for Healthcare Personnel Caring for Patients with Suspected or Known COVID-19

Clin Infect Dis. 2021 Nov 15;ciab953. doi: 10.1093/cid/ciab953. Online ahead of print.


Background: Since its emergence in late 2019, SARS-CoV-2 continues to pose a risk to healthcare personnel (HCP) and patients in healthcare settings. Although all clinical interactions likely carry some risk of transmission, human actions like coughing and care activities like aerosol-generating procedures likely have a higher risk of transmission. The rapid emergence and global spread of SARS-CoV-2 continues to create significant challenges in healthcare facilities, particularly with shortages of personal protective equipment (PPE) used by HCP. Evidence-based recommendations for what PPE to use in conventional, contingency, and crisis standards of care continue to be needed. Where evidence is lacking, the development of specific research questions can help direct funders and investigators.

Objective: Develop evidence-based rapid guidelines intended to support HCP in their decisions about infection prevention when caring for patients with suspected or known COVID-19.

Methods: IDSA formed a multidisciplinary guideline panel including frontline clinicians, infectious disease specialists, experts in infection control, and guideline methodologists with representation from the disciplines of public health, medical microbiology, pediatrics, critical care medicine and gastroenterology. The process followed a rapid recommendation checklist. The panel prioritized questions and outcomes. Then a systematic review of the peer-reviewed and grey literature was conducted. The Grading of Recommendations Assessment, Development and Evaluation (GRADE) approach was used to assess the certainty of evidence and make recommendations.

Results: The IDSA guideline panel agreed on eight recommendations, including two updated recommendations and one new recommendation added since the first version of the guideline. Narrative summaries of other interventions undergoing evaluations are also included.

Conclusions: Using a combination of direct and indirect evidence, the panel was able to provide recommendations for eight specific questions on the use of PPE for HCP providing care for patients with suspected or known COVID-19. Where evidence was lacking, attempts were made to provide potential avenues for investigation. There remain significant gaps in the understanding of the transmission dynamics of SARS-CoV-2 and PPE recommendations may need to be modified in response to new evidence. These recommendations should serve as a minimum for PPE use in healthcare facilities and do not preclude decisions based on local risk assessments or requirements of local health jurisdictions or other regulatory bodies.