Because the onset, duration, and period of infectiousness for COVID-19 are not yet confirmed, employers and healthcare facilities should take the stance that screens are necessary to “mitigate risk.” All patients and visitors entering any healthcare facilities can and should expect to be screened. Facilities may choose to communicate this to visitors and patients by placing signs, sending letters, or stating this verbally with each appointment, to manage expectations.
Facilities should have a process is in place to triage, report and track patients, visitors, and staff who screen positively for COVID-19. Those individuals will also be taken through a complete protocol that helps them and protects staff and others.
While providers may encounter folks who do not wish to be screened, during this time of a national emergency and pandemic, they should not waver from established facility policy and direction from the CDC. If an individual refuses to allow screening, and is not in an emergent condition or status, I would refuse treatment and offer to reschedule that patient until they comply with protocols or the national emergency status has been lifted.
The CDC has guidance that is intended to address recommended infection prevention and control practices when these activities are performed outside of a hospital setting, which warrant additional considerations beyond those described for healthcare settings. This guidance includes interviewing and assessing persons with or without symptoms.