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[UPDATED] ACS Calls for Minimizing Elective Procedures During COVID-19 Crisis

By Jonathan Springston, Editor, Relias Media

As the COVID-19 crisis unfolds, the American College of Surgeons (ACS) recommends surgeons, health systems, and hospitals minimize, reschedule, or cancel elective surgeries, endoscopies, and other invasive procedures until everyone “can be confident that our healthcare infrastructure can support a potentially rapid and overwhelming uptick in critical patient care needs.”

Further, the group suggests minimizing the use of essential items needed to care for patients during an emergency, including ventilators, ICU beds, terminal cleaning supplies, and personal protective equipment. This would ensure these resources are readily available for an uptick in COVID-19 cases.

“Time is of the essence,” the group said in a statement. “Please be vigilant and take a leadership role in your practice setting so that these recommendations begin to take hold immediately.”

One day after ACS issued its recommendations, U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams tweeted his support, noting that elective surgeries may pull staff away from responding to COVID-19 cases, along with the toll these procedures may take on personal protective equipment and other vital supplies.

For much more information on how the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting the surgery profession, be sure to read the upcoming May issue of Same-Day Surgery.

(Updated March 16, 2020, 2:34 p.m.)

Hours after this report went online, the Ambulatory Surgery Center Association (ASCA) issued a statement about its position regarding ambulatory surgery centers (ASCs) and continuing to perform elective surgeries. From the statement:

"The Ambulatory Surgery Center Association (ASCA) has consulted with clinical experts in our community and the consensus position is that ASCs can continue to provide safe surgical care for patients whose condition cannot wait until hospitals return to normal operations. As a critical component of the healthcare system, we are keenly aware of how our actions can materially impact the health of the communities that we serve ... ASCs can serve as alternative settings that provide surgical care for those patients who would suffer from a delay, while allowing our local hospital partners to create the incremental capacity needed during these dynamic times. As the pandemic progresses, we will continue to assess our approach, in coordination with experts throughout the healthcare system, to best serve the needs of patients and communities."

The full statement is available here.