In response to government guidance that hospitals and ambulatory surgery centers postpone elective surgeries during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Ambulatory Surgery Center Association (ASCA) has consulted with clinical leaders to solicit recommendations on how and when facilities should proceed with cases that, for clinical reasons, should not be postponed. Surgery may be deemed urgent and necessary if the treating physician decides that a months-long delay would increase the likelihood of significantly worse morbidity or prognosis for the patient.
First and foremost, if a procedure can be safely postponed without additional significant risk to the patient, it should be delayed until after the pandemic. The current and ongoing efforts to isolate our population and create social distancing are essential steps in saving lives by shortening and ultimately ending the COVID-19 pandemic. The health and safety of patients, along with preventing the spread of COVID-19, must be our highest priority. We concur with the American College of Surgeons that “the risk to the patient should include an aggregate assessment of the real risk of proceeding and the real risk of delay, including the expectation that a delay of 6–8 weeks or more may be required to emerge from an environment in which COVID-19 is less prevalent.”
Physicians should engage with patients and families to make care decisions that minimize potential risks to patients while ensuring they receive necessary care that cannot be safely delayed. Physicians should consider the potential of post-surgical complications that could place stress on the local hospital that may lack the capacity for transfers. To that end, facilities should reach out to local hospitals to establish a line of communication that ensures coordination in managing care during the pandemic.
The health and safety of our patients, our staff and our community are of the utmost importance to us at the Gulf Coast Outpatient Surgery Center! Our facility will remain open and will continue to follow the CDC and the Mississippi Department of Health’s guidelines to ensure a clean and safe environment for our patients and our staff. Thank you for your patience and understanding as we navigate this together and push through!