Implementing a Fever Clinic for Managing COVID-19 Patients using Hydroxychloroquine Protocol- An Experience from a Primary Healthcare Centre in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
Ayla M Tourkmani,
Consultant Clinical Pharmacist and Clinical Researcher, Department of Family Medicine,
Prince Sultan Military Medical City, Riyadh-11159, Saudi Arabia.
Introduction: During the initial weeks of the COVID-19 pandemic, there was limited information and evidence about therapeutic interventions for management of COVID-19 infections. Consequently, fever clinics were established in Saudi Arabia to provide supportive treatment for all COVID-19 patients as specialised clinics. During the early months of 2020, Hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) was being used as part of the Saudi Ministry of Health (MoH) protocol for management of COVID-19 infections.
Aim: To report the experience with implementing fever clinic utilising the HCQ-based protocol for adults with mild and moderate symptoms of COVID-19, and provide further evidence regarding the efficacy and safety of HCQ.
Materials and Methods: A prospective observational study was conducted in one of the primary healthcare centres in Saudi Arabia. All patients with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 who visited the fever clinic and met the eligibility criteria of starting HCQ based protocol were included in the study. Beside supportive treatment, the intervention dose of HCQ was 400 mg twice a day for one day followed by 200 mg twice a day for another four days. Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS) version 22 was used for data analyses.
Results: A total of 108 patients with mean age of 36 years with Standard Deviation (SD) of 9.3 were included in the study. The mean Body Mass Index (BMI) was 27.1 (SD 4.9). In addition, 73.1% of the patients were males and 25% were smokers. The study findings showed that the fever clinic was effective in managing the symptoms of COVID-19 and treating the patients regardless of the use or completion of HCQ. In particular, on day 6, cough improved in >85% of the patients and fever was resolved in >83% of patients. However, there were no statistically significant differences among the patients who received/completed HCQ and those who did not start or complete the protocol in terms of negative conversion based on the Nasopharyngeal (NP) swab real time Reverse-Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-PCR) by day 14, and resolution/improvement of symptoms on day 6 (p>0.05).
Conclusion: This study documented the experience of implementing a fever clinic to manage the suspected and confirmed COVID-19 patients with mild to moderate symptoms during the initial phase of the pandemic in Saudi Arabia. The study findings revealed that the concept of fever clinics was useful for managing suspected and confirmed cases. At the same time, there were no additional benefits of HCQ compared to the supportive treatment in this study.