Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19): A primer for emergency physicians

Summer Chavez, Brit Long, Alex Koyfman, Stephen Y. Liang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

140 Scopus citations


Introduction: Rapid worldwide spread of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) has resulted in a global pandemic. Objective: This review article provides emergency physicians with an overview of the most current understanding of COVID-19 and recommendations on the evaluation and management of patients with suspected COVID-19. Discussion: Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), the virus responsible for causing COVID-19, is primarily transmitted from person-to-person through close contact (approximately 6 ft) by respiratory droplets. Symptoms of COVID-19 are similar to other viral upper respiratory illnesses. Three major trajectories include mild disease with upper respiratory symptoms, non-severe pneumonia, and severe pneumonia complicated by acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS). Emergency physicians should focus on identifying patients at risk, isolating suspected patients, and informing hospital infection prevention and public health authorities. Patients with suspected COVID-19 should be asked to wear a facemask. Respiratory etiquette, hand washing, and personal protective equipment are recommended for all healthcare personnel caring for suspected cases. Disposition depends on patient symptoms, hemodynamic status, and patient ability to self-quarantine. Conclusion: This narrative review provides clinicians with an updated approach to the evaluation and management of patients presenting to the emergency department with suspected COVID-19.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)220-229
Number of pages10
JournalAmerican Journal of Emergency Medicine
StatePublished - Jun 2021


  • COVID-19
  • Coronavirus Disease
  • Infectious disease
  • Pulmonary

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Emergency Medicine


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