New national ‘living guidelines’ for Australian clinicians caring for people with COVID-19

New clinical guidelines for Australian nurses and other clinicians detailing the management of patients with moderate to severe COVID-19 and the management of patients with severe to critical COVID-19, have been launched.

In a world-first, the national ‘living guidelines’ provide a single source of up-to-the-minute evidence-based advice covering the clinical care of people with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 infection across primary, acute and critical care settings.

The first set of recommendations, which include useful decision flowcharts, address the definition of disease severity, monitoring and markers of clinical deterioration, antivirals and other disease modifying-treatments, and respiratory support.

The national guidelines have been developed by the National COVID-19 Clinical Evidence Taskforce, made up of researchers, experts and clinicians from some of Australia’s peak health professional bodies.

The Taskforce will continue to analyse emerging national and international research and data on COVID-19 to provide frontline healthcare workers with updated information and advice in ‘near real-time’.

Taskforce Chair, Associate Professor Julian Elliott, Head of Clinical Research in the Department of Infectious Diseases at Alfred Hospital and Monash University, and Senior Research Fellow at Cochrane Australia, said clinicians urgently needed trusted advice as they tackle the coronavirus crisis.

“There is urgent need to arm Australia’s healthcare professionals with evidence-based guidance about how best to care for people with COVID-19.

“These will be ‘living guidelines’, updated with new research in near real-time in order to give reliable, up-to-the minute recommendations to clinicians during this unprecedented health crisis.”

Using evidence surveillance and automation technologies, the Taskforce will identify and summarise global COVID-19 research findings and deliver the information to guideline panels weekly, drawn from across Australia’s clinical and consumer communities.

The results will then produce a ‘single source’ of advice to help inform clinicians on the frontline.

“This is about ensuring that Australian clinicians are supported at the frontline with the right information,” Professor Elliott said.

“There is a lot of conflicting advice circulating and not all of it is based on good quality evidence.”

The Australian government is providing $1.5 million in funding from its Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF) to support the work of the Taskforce.

As well as being available online, the guidelines can be accessed via a mobile web app to make it easier for clinicians to scan information at the point of care.

The guidelines are available by clicking here

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