In March 2020, the World Health Organization declared COVID-19, caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus, a pandemic. Patients with severe cases resulting in hospitalization and mechanical ventilation are at risk for COVID-19–associated pulmonary aspergillosis, an invasive fungal infection, and should be screened for aspergillosis if they have persistent hemodynamic instability and fever. Early detection and treatment of this fungal infection can significantly reduce morbidity and mortality in this population.
To develop an evidence-based care step pathway tool to help intensive care unit clinicians assess, diagnose, and treat COVID-19–associated pulmonary aspergillosis.
A panel of 18 infectious disease experts, advanced practice registered nurses, pharmacists, and clinical researchers convened in a series of meetings to develop the Care Step Pathway tool, which was modeled on a tool developed by advanced practice nurses to evaluate and manage side effects of therapies for melanoma. The Care Step Pathway tool addresses various aspects of disease management, including assessment, screening, diagnosis, antifungal treatment, pharmacological considerations, and exclusion of other invasive fungal coinfections.
The Care Step Pathway tool was applied in the care of a patient with COVID-19–associated aspergillosis. The patient was successfully treated.
The Care Step Pathway is an effective educational tool to help intensive care unit clinicians consider fungal infection when caring for COVID-19 patients receiving mechanical ventilation in the intensive care unit, especially when the clinical course is deteriorating and antibiotics are ineffective.