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A Rapid Guidance Summary from the

Penn Medicine Center for Evidence-based Practice

Last updated March 26, 2020 6:00 pm All links rechecked March 26 unless otherwise noted.

View file
nameDischarge care guidance summary 326.docx

Key questions answered in this summary

  • How should COVID-19 patients be cared for after hospital discharge?

Criteria for discontinuing isolation precautions and COVID-19 related care are outside the scope of this report.

Summary of major recommendations



Guidelines for patients with mild disease who do not need to be hospitalized also apply to discharged patients.


Patients should remain in isolation at home until free of disease.


Provide patients with symptomatic treatment. Guidelines do not call for definitive treatment, and protocols from other hospitals call for symptomatic treatment only..


Patients should immediately contact the hospital if they develop symptoms of complicated disease


Key: A–consistently recommended in multiple guidelines, B–recommended in a single guideline, recommended only in hospital policy documents, or recommended weakly, C–guidelines or recommendations lacking or inconsistent.

Definition of terms

Guideline: Guidance developed by a professional society or government agency, intended for use at multiple hospitals.
Policy: Guidance developed at a hospital for use at that hospital. It may be based on guidelines or on expert opinion.

Guidelines for discharge to home care



March 13

Provide patient with mild COVID-19 with symptomatic treatment such as antipyretics for fever.
Counsel patients with mild COVID-19 about signs and symptoms of complicated disease. If they develop any of these symptoms, they should seek urgent care through national referral systems.
Instruct family members and caregivers on personal hygiene measures and infection control.
If all mild cases cannot be isolated in health facilities, then those with mild illness and no risk factors may need to be isolated in non-traditional facilities, such as repurposed hotels, stadiums or gymnasiums where they can remain until their symptoms resolve and laboratory tests for COVID-19 virus are negative. Alternatively, patients with mild disease and no risk factors can be managed at home.

CheckedMarch 26

No relevant guidance.

March 23

Patients can be discharged from the healthcare facility whenever clinically indicated.
If discharged to home, isolation should be maintained if the patient returns home before discontinuation of Transmission-Based Precautions. The decision to send the patient home should be made in consultation with the patient's clinical care team and local or state public health departments. It should include considerations of the home's suitability for and patient's ability to adhere to home isolation recommendations.
CDC guidance for home care applies to patients who have been discharged from the hospital (see below).
If discharged to a long-term care or assisted living facility, and transmission-based precautions are still required, patients should go to a facility with adequate personal protective equipment supplies and an ability to adhere to infection prevention and control recommendations for the care of COVID-19 patients. Preferably, the patient would be placed at a facility that has already cared for COVID-19 cases, in a specific unit designated to care for COVID-19 residents.

March 19

Acute and community hospitals must discharge all patients as soon as they are clinically safe to do so. 50% of discharged patients are expected to be cared for at home without support from a health or social care provider; 45% are expected to need health or social care support. 4% will need to be discharged to a rehabilitative care setting. 1% have had a life-changing event.
NHS guidance for isolation of patients and family members applies. No guidance for symptomatic or definitive treatment is given.

Details of isolation guidelines



March 13

Place the patient in a well-ventilated single room (i.e. with open windows and an open door). Limit the movement of the patient in the house and minimize shared space. Ensure that shared spaces (e.g. kitchen, bathroom) are well ventilated (keep windows open). Limit the number of caregivers. Ideally, assign one person who is in good health and has no underlying chronic or immunocompromising conditions. Caregivers should wear a medical mask that covers their mouth and nose when in the same room as the patient.

March 23

Considerations for care at home include:

  • The patient is stable enough to receive care at home.
  • Appropriate caregivers are available at home.
  • There is a separate bedroom where the patient can recover without sharing immediate space with others.
  • Resources for access to food and other necessities are available.
  • The patient and other household members have access to appropriate, recommended personal protective equipment (at a minimum, gloves and facemask) and are capable of adhering to precautions recommended as part of home care or isolation (e.g., respiratory hygiene and cough etiquette, hand hygiene).
  • There are household members who may be at increased risk of complications from COVID-19 infection (.e.g., people >65 years old, young children, pregnant women, people who are immunocompromised or who have chronic heart, lung, or kidney conditions).

March 19

NHS guidance for isolation of patients and family members applies. Use of facemasks is not recommended. Please see linked document for details.

Hospital policies on discharge of patients to home



March 15

Please see Appendix A for detailed instructions.

Zhejiang University(China)
March 24

Please see Appendix B for detailed instructions

Hospital policies on management of discharged patients



No specific guidance for hospital patients discharged to home. We assume that outpatient treatment protocols apply.

Agree: Cleveland, Mt. Sinai

Provide supportive care rather than definitive treatment to patients not requiring hospital care.

Agree: Cleveland, Mt. Sinai

About this report

A Rapid Guidance Summary is a focused synopsis of recommendations from selected guideline issuers and health care systems, intended to provide guidance to Penn Medicine providers and administrators during times when latest guidance is urgently needed. It is not based on a complete systematic review of the evidence. Please see the CEP web site for further details on the methods for developing these reports.
Lead analyst: Matthew D. Mitchell, PhD (CEP)
Evidence team: Emilia J. Flores, PhD, RN (CEP), Kirstin A. Manges, PhD, RN (NCS); Shazia M. Siddique, MD (CEP)
Reviewer: Nikhil K. Mull, MD (CEP)
©2020 Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania

Appendix A. Washington discharge checklist

Appendix B. Zhejiang University Hospital discharge plan

Discharge standards

  1. Body temperature remains normal for at least 3 days (ear temperature is lower than 37.5 ℃);
  2. Respiratory symptoms are significantly improved;
  3. The nucleic acid is tested negative for respiratory tract pathogen twice consecutively (sampling interval more than 24 hours); the nucleic acid test of stool samples can be performed at the same time if possible;
  4. Lung imaging shows obvious improvement in lesions;
  5. There is no comorbidities or complications which require hospitalization;
  6. SpO2 > 93% without assisted oxygen inhalation;
  7. Discharge approved by multi-disciplinary medical team.