11:38 AM

Advice on Treating Rheumatic Diseases From a COVID-19 Epicenter

Medscape features an article written by HSS rheumatologist, Stephen A. Paget, MD, FACP, FACR, and rheumatology fellows Kimberly Showalter MD, and Sebastian E. Sattui, MD, discussing their approach to caring for patients with rheumatic diseases at the epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to the article, maintaining an open line of communication with patients has become more essential than ever, to understand their concerns and provide support and personalized treatment decisions. For rheumatology patients who do not show any COVID-19 symptoms, the disease management approach is individualized and recommended behaviors for preventing infection (e.g., social distancing, frequent handwashing, and avoiding touching one's face), are being reinforced. For patients who may have been exposed and infected, the authors consult the most up-to-date, local information regarding testing as individual potential cases arise.

Despite the growing interest for treating COVID-19 patients with hydroxychloroquine (a drug that is widely used in rheumatology to reduce disease activity, particularly lupus), the evidence of its effectiveness to treat COVID-19 is inconclusive and limited. The authors continue standard dosing of hydroxychloroquine for rheumatology patients who are currently flaring or recently flared, and make shared, individualized decisions for those patients with stable disease as the shortage evolves.

The authors concluded, “The COVID-19 pandemic has presented us all with unprecedented challenges. As rheumatologists, it is our duty to lead our patients through this uncharted territory with close communication, information, advocacy, and personalized treatment decisions.”

Read the full article at Medscape.com.