As the novel coronavirus continues to spread across much of the United States, many state and local governments have called on healthcare facilities to consider stopping elective surgeries and procedures in order to free up needed healthcare professionals and personal protective gear. As medical facilities begin to alter their surgery schedules to help alleviate the strain on the healthcare system due to an increase in COVID-19 patients, there are confusing reports regarding the exact guidelines that should be followed regarding elective surgeries.

As with any ongoing medical crisis, it is important for healthcare workers across the industry to stay up to date on their local, state, and federal guidelines regarding current elective surgery guidelines. With the situation changing daily – and many states starting the conversation regarding relaxation of restrictions – it is vital to stay up to date. We have collected some of the most recent guidelines given to give some insight into the current situation.

Common Guidelines Regarding Elective Surgeries

On March 18th, The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) released a framework for whether or not elective surgery should be performed. The statement came after  the Trump administration’s Coronavirus Task Force Coordinator Deborah Birx, MD, gave guidance urging the postponement of elective surgeries until the COVID-19 pandemic had run it’s current course, saying:  “Things that don’t need to be done over the next two weeks don’t get it done.”

Here are the factors that CMS believe should be considered when deciding on whether or not an elective surgery should occur as scheduled:

  • The rate of current and projected COVID-19 cases in the facility and region
  • The current supply of personal protective equipment available to the facilities in the system
  • Staffing availability at a particular healthcare system
  • Bed availability, especially intensive care unit beds
  • Ventilator availability
  • Health and age of the patient, especially given the risks of concurrent COVID-19 infection during recovery
  • The urgency of the procedure

Determinations for future elective surgeries

As the situation regarding the novel coronavirus continues to evolve, many states and municipalities are considering easing guidelines recommending against elective surgeries and procedures. Organizations such as the American College of Surgeons have begun to release a rolling list of resources related to risk determination with elective surgeries. By keeping a careful eye on these resources and following updates from healthcare professionals and government officials, medical providers can better serve patients while avoiding the risk involved with treating during COVID-19.

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