Information about the corona crisis (COVID-19) in Dutch general practice is scarce. Since March 2th, the Fame-Net (Radboud University Medical Centre Family Medicine Network) has carefully registered all care contacts related to COVID-19. FaMe-Net registers all doctor-patient consultations within an Episodes of Care structure. This includes diagnoses that may alter during an episode of care, and all encounters within this episode of care. All morbidity is carefully classified in accordance with the International Classification of Primary Care (ICPC).
The interest of this trend data is that it gives insight in the effect of all government measures. Those will be first visible in a reduction of COVID-19 infection diagnoses in general practice. Reduction in hospital admissions and intensive care unit stays will be visible only days to weeks later. On our website we will refresh our data every day.
The number of COVID-19 cases in general practice is steadily increasing. In the Netherlands, less than 10% of the clinically highly suspected cases have been tested. Moreover, half of the people with a positive test consist of healthcare staff who – on the advice of the Public Health Authorities – always pass the results on to the practice without having serious complaints themselves (Chart 1).
Patients who have a COVID-19 infection report to the GP a variety of complaints. People often report in the first week after the onset of complaints. Less than 15% of patients have complaints for more than a week at first contact. To date, 5% of patients with COVID-19 infection have been referred to secondary care (Chart 3).
The general practice gets a striking number of questions about COVID-19 (Chart 3). Compared to encounters for respiratory symptoms in the winter of 2019, it is a multitude. About 80% of all requests about COVID-19 are currently handled by telephone. Less than 10% is handled by a special COVID-19 GP service which is operational 24/7. In Nijmegen, patients suspected of possible COVID-19 infection (fever and / or respiratory complaints) are no longer seen in the day-practice, but are referred to the GP post that is manned 24/7. Only the visits are carried out by your own GPs. During the weekend there are remarkably few questions, people apparently wait for their own GP.