The Value of Team-Based Management in a Virus Outbreak

The 2019-nCoV outbreak is a global health emergency, as declared by the World Health Organization (WHO) on January 30, 2020. The Wuhan, China coronavirus outbreak which started on December 31, 2019, is rapidly unfolding, and clinicians are faced with a daunting amount of information to stay abreast. With mounting numbers of infected cases (20,647 confirmed cases, 361 confirmed deaths as of February 4th, 2020), the virus is moving at unprecedented speed. The first incidence of person-to-person transmission has already been reported in the United States. There is much scientific and epidemiologic knowledge lacking that clinicians need to know about 2019-nCoV.

How should healthcare systems and clinicians respond to the novel coronavirus?

For an epidemic of any magnitude, prevention and preparation are essential, especially for healthcare personnel in the clinical setting. In dealing with a global threat in similar or greater magnitude than that of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), we need to reach into history to identify lessons learned. The goal of this educational brief is to address prevention methods as lessons learned from recent studies including those identified by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). These identify the importance of coordinated care among team members, which calls for team-based strategies for surveillance, prevention, and management of the outbreak. Lessons learned from the SARS epidemic will help guide response to the emergence of the current 2019-nCoV. One clear lesson derived from recent outbreaks is that it takes a team to contain and combat a virus outbreak.

Healthcare facilities should have a planning and decision-making structure. Leaders should organize a multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary working committee to address issues.

Learning Objectives

At the conclusion of this activity, participants should be able to:
  • Describe team-based strategies for surveillance, prevention, and management of suspected cases of 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCOV)
  • Recognize the critical role of coordinated care during a viral outbreak
  • Discuss the outcomes associated with team-based management of a virus outbreak