Amar Majjhoo, MD: The availability of the ACR [American College of Rheumatology] guidelines for the treatment of our patients with rheumatic diseases during this time of COVID-19 [coronavirus disease 2019] has been very helpful. It has reinforced what a lot of us were thinking intuitively, but it’s nice to have something in print, something available on a web page, for not only us to refer to, but for our patients to see that we’re not just making things up by the seat of our pants, that there are other experts who have gotten together and come up with these guidelines.
This is a living document as they refer to it, and things evolve. Having these statements and these guidelines have helped reinforce what I was doing, and what a lot of our colleagues are doing as well. It has been reassuring to be able to tell patients that, “Look, you have a chronic autoimmune inflammatory disease, and based on the information we have, it’s important for you to continue on your therapy, and the benefits are outweighing the risks.”
I have some examples of the kind of tools I use to educate my patients about that. I break it down in layman’s terms, and they seem to understand the importance of continuing on therapy. Obviously we emphasize the importance of the measures that we really all need to be doing in terms of social distancing, handwashing, the use of the mask, hand sanitizing, and so forth.
The guidance also expands on what do you do when your patients have known exposure. They don’t have symptoms necessarily. They don’t have COVID-19, or at least we don’t know, but they’ve had exposure. That’s been nice to refer to as well.
Transcript Edited for Clarity