American College of Surgeons provides recommendations for elective surgery during COVID-19 pandemic
Tue - April 14, 2020
The coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic is the defining global health crisis of our time and the greatest challenge we have faced since World War Two. Since its emergence in Asia late last year, the virus has spread to every continent except Antarctica. Cases are rising daily in Africa the Americas, and Europe.
Until the predicted inflection point in the exposure, the graph has been passed and a potentially rapid and overwhelming uptick in critical patient care needs can be supported by the health care infrastructure, the ACS recommends all hospitals, health systems, and surgeons “thoughtfully review all scheduled elective procedures with a plan to minimize, postpone or cancel electively scheduled operations, endoscopies or other invasive procedures,” according to the release. The ACS also recommends immediately minimizing the use of essential items needed to care for patients, such as ICU beds, personal protective equipment, terminal cleaning supplies, and ventilators.
Surgeons who practice in an area that is not a geographic COVID-19 “hot zone” should refer to the CDC website for guidance, the ACS noted. For inpatient facilities, the ACS noted the CDC recommends the following:
- Rescheduling elective surgeries as necessary;
- Shift elective urgent inpatient diagnostic and surgical procedures to outpatient settings when feasible;
- Limit visitors to COVID-19 patients; and
- Plan for a surge of critically ill patients and identify additional space to care for these patients.
The ACS noted hospitals and practices should also familiarize themselves with infection control practices in the event a patient presents with symptoms, including donning N95 respirator masks; donning full personal protective equipment, including protective eyewear; doffing personal protective equipment responsibly; and decontaminating hands with EtOH-based gel after doffing equipment.