Editor’s Note: Find the latest news and guidance from COVID-19 at the Medscape Coronavirus Resource Center.
The University of Florida (UF) Health declines to confirm a group of COVID-19 infections in 17 residents, a partner, and an administrative employee, all of whom reportedly contracted the disease at a private party.
The COVID group on the Gainesville-based system was brought to light by the university’s news service, Fresh Take Florida. According to a Take fresh On July 27, residents and a colleague, all members of the anesthesiology department, attended a party in early July that was attended by an additional 20 to 30 residents.
Department President Timothy E. Morey, MD, wrote to staff on July 10 to report the cases and said everyone affected was recovering at home, according to an email obtained by Fresh Take Florida. It is unclear whether residents and colleagues worked while infected. Morey did not respond to a request for comment at the time of publication.
UF Health did not notify the public, something that should not have been overlooked, said Arthur Caplan, MD, Doctors William F. and Virginia Connolly Mitty, professor of bioethics at New York University Langone Health (Caplan is also a frequent contributor to Medscape).
“If there was any chance of exposure to patients, visitors or the public, the hospital should have said they had an outbreak and what they did about it,” Caplan said. Medscape Medical News. People should also have been told they could be contacted to track the outbreak, he said.
Ross McKinney Jr, MD, chief scientific officer for the Association of American Medical Colleges, said it should be viewed as a warning story. “The story illustrates the fact that everyone, regardless of age or professional background, should be careful with COVID,” said McKinney Medscape Medical News.
“Group meetings where people don’t wear masks, particularly in confined spaces with loud conversations, are the ideal setting for an overcast event like this,” he said.
McKinney pointed out the numerous direct and indirect consequences. In addition to getting sick, residents or colleagues could have put patients at risk if they were infected but without symptoms.
Furthermore, “the anesthesia department will now have to cover sick residents and fellows that it believed would be available to work with patients,” he said, adding that “everyone, especially those working in health care, should assume a personal responsibility. ” “
Disciplinary action guaranteed?
Caplan suggested that residents and colleagues should be disciplined. “If they were going to a party and they weren’t following the social distancing and masking, and they were indoors, they should be disciplining them,” he said, adding that the hospital should also “renew its efforts in preventing COVID with everyone.”
Fresh Take Florida reports that the UF department of anesthesiology has nearly 100 residents.
The health system said Medscape Medical News that only a small number, about 3.4%, of its 12,000 employees have received COVID. But when specifically asked about residents and peers, the organization said in a statement, “State and federal privacy laws are such that we often cannot comment on specific situations and, like any business, employees sometimes get sick. “
UF also said it follows the guidelines of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention by isolating anyone who gets sick and helping to locate contacts. Employees are not allowed to return to work until they are screened and re-evaluated negatively, the health system said.
“The vast majority of our employees who tested positive in the past few months appear to have acquired COVID-19 in the community, not in the hospital setting,” the health system said, adding that the majority had received authorization to return to work, and that there was no impact on patient care.
For more news, follow Medscape on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube.