The American College of Surgeons released recommendations for management of elective surgical procedures and essential resources following a careful review of the current situation surrounding COVID-19.
Until the predicted inflection point in the exposure 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 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.