Doctors aren't confident about U.S. preparedness for coronavirus, survey finds

U.S. physicians aren’t confident about the country’s preparedness to cope with the novel coronavirus as they are put their own protocols in place for potentially infected patients.

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The survey of 150 doctors found only 9% feel confident they could identify a patient who has contracted what is now known as COVID-19, the novel respiratory illness with flu-like systems that originated in Wuhan, China, according to a new survey from InCrowd.

Just one in four physicians feels very prepared to treat a patient that has potentially contracted COVID-19.

Of the government response to COVID-19, only one in three respondents agrees that the U.S. is taking strong precautions to prevent the spread of the illness. Nearly half (45%) agree that the World Health Organization and governments outside of the U.S. are taking strong precautions to prevent the spread of the disease.

So far, 14 people in the U.S. have been confirmed to have the 2019 novel coronavirus, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The latest patient is among a group of people quarantined in California after returning on a State Department-chartered flight from China.

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Coronavirus has been blamed for 1,367 deaths worldwide, all but two recorded in mainland China, which has been the center of the outbreak, according to USA Today. The total number of confirmed cases has spiked to over 60,000.

InCrowd surveyed emergency medicine or critical care specialists, pediatricians and primary care physicians about COVID-19 between January 31 and February 4 and found most report a lack of confidence in their preparedness to treat COVID-19. Of those surveyed, 65% said they don’t have access to a COVID-19 test kit made available by the CDC for laboratory testing. Seventy-two percent of respondents say if a patient traveled to a country where COVID-19 is prevalent, they would automatically want to test for the virus if the test were available.

Yet the majority of physicians confirm that their practices are recommending protocols to follow for potentially affected patients. While 75% of respondents said that their clinic or hospital has recommended a protocol for patients that could potentially have COVID-19, only 38% think the hospitals or facilities where they have privileges are prepared to treat people with the disease.

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While only 9% of respondents rated themselves as being very concerned about COVID-19, 28% said their patients are very concerned. “I’m not particularly concerned about it, however, we are forced by media hype to feed into the fear,” a 42-year-old male emergency medicine and critical care specialist said in the survey.

But doctors said patients should be more concerned about the flu. “I try to emphasize to my patients that they should be more worried about the influenza virus,” said a 36-year-old female emergency medicine and critical care specialist.

In fact, 21% of respondents said their patients are more concerned about the threat of the flu, which the CDC estimates has killed 12,000 patients in the U.S. this season and resulted in 210,000 hospitalizations.