MERS : Medical Assistants Class



  • Most MAs and other health care workers in the United States have never taken care of a patient with MERS because:

    MERS was only recently identified

    Rationale: MERS is a disease that was first identified in the Middle East in 2012. It has only spread to a few countries in the entire world. Most of them are in Middle East. It is a serious illness, therefore health care workers worldwide need to be aware of MERS.

  • MERS spreads by the following means:

    Living close to, or caring for a person who has or was exposed to MERS

    Rationale: It is unknown where the virus that causes MERS originated. The virus is similar to a virus found in bats and camels. Humans contract MERS by caring for or living close to people who have been exposed to the MERS virus or are ill with MERS.

  • The MA uses the following resources to stay abreast of information related to MERS and infection control:

    CDC, WHO, infection control manuals; and policy and procedure manuals,

    Rationale: The CDC, Centers for Disease Control; and WHO, World Health Organization; provide up to date information about MERS. Other resources include infection control; and policy and procedure manuals provided by employers.

  • Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus, also known as MERS or MERS-CoV, is this type of illness:

    Viral respiratory

    Rationale: There are several different types of diseases. They are generally classified by the system of the body affected or by cause. Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus, MERS, is a disease which is caused by a virus. It affects the respiratory system.

  • MERS is diagnosed with the aid of:

    Specialized laboratory tests

    Rationale: State and federal health agencies and some international laboratories provide laboratory tests to confirm a diagnosis of MERs. These tests are not routinely available in doctor’s offices and hospitals as MERS is a very rare disease in most of the world, including the United States.

  • The MA might consider that a patient may have MERS if the following symptoms are observed:

    Fever, difficulty breathing, and cough

    Rationale: MERS may cause mild or serious illness. Approximately thirty percent of people diagnosed with MERS have died from the disease. Patients with MERS show signs of respiratory illness, including cough and difficulty breathing. The patient’s respiratory rate and temperature may be elevated.

  • The CDC recommends that the following types of isolation precautions be employed while providing care to a hospitalized patient with MERS:

    Standard, Contact, Airborne

    Rationale: Not every person who has been diagnosed with MERS requires hospitalization. However if a patient is hospitalized with MERS, the CDC recommends that Standard, Contact, and Airborne isolation practices be used. MAs caring for non- hospitalized patients who may have MERS should use standard precautions and have the patient wear a facemask.

  • If an MA develops a fever, cough, and respiratory difficulty one week after providing care to a patient diagnosed with MERS, she should:

    Stop working, notify her supervisor, get medical attention, and stay home from work

    Rationale: Symptoms of MERS may take up to two weeks after exposure to develop. If an MA develops fever, cough, or respiratory difficulty within a two week period of caring for a patient with MERS, she should notify her supervisor and seek medical attention. The MA should stop working immediately and stay home from work until cleared for a return to work by a qualified health care provider.

  • The MA should take precautions to protect himself and others from possible exposure to MERS while caring for:

    Someone sick with a respiratory illness who flew in from the Middle East one week ago

    Rationale: The CDC, Center for Disease Control recommends that patients who have traveled to the Middle East or had close contact with a sick individual who has come from the Middle East within the past fourteen days, and has a respiratory infection should be evaluated for possible infection with MERS. Illness may include pneumonia, fever, or acute respiratory distress.

  • The MA should clean and disinfect environmental surfaces and medical equipment which is used while caring for a patient with MERS by using:

    An EPA registered disinfectant

    Rationale: Environmental surfaces and medical equipment used to provide care to patients who have MERS requires no special attention. The MA should clean them following the facility’s normal policy and procedure. An EPA, Environmental Protection Agency, registered disinfectant should be used when cleaning medical equipment and environmental surfaces in a health care setting, regardless of the patient’s diagnosis.


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