By Jonathan Springston, Editor, Relias Media

As large swaths of the United States lift certain restrictions, some hospitals and surgery centers may be ready to try to resume elective surgeries, most of which had been put on hold so resources could be directed toward the COVID-19 pandemic and halt the virus’ spread.

Now, the American College of Surgeons (ACS) has released a two-part checklist for facilities that are ready to try to resume regular business. These readiness considerations revolve around general facility policies, structure and processes, and outcomes reporting.

“There are many aspects to building patient trust in post-pandemic care, including assuring that staff are ready, that proper resources are available, and that the facility is safe for delivering high-quality patient care,” the ACS explained. “Having these elements in place and transparently and frequently … communicating this information to patients will help to support surgical safety during the COVID-19 pandemic and post-pandemic periods.”

Part one is the “core facility checklist.” This includes information about screening patients and visitors for the coronavirus, how staff don and doff personal protective equipment (PPE), and infection control procedures. Because patients still may be concerned about the virus, the part one checklist includes advice about publicly reporting data.

“Building trust through [an] informed public and patients is paramount. In a recent survey, no amount of information is ‘too much’ for the consumer at present. Sharing information on a hospital website, for example, would serve to inform patients of local hospital COVID-19-related policies and processes [and] data, as would individual discussions between each patient and their surgeon to ensure they are informed about all protective steps being taken,” the ACS noted. “This discussion is one of the most effective way[s] to restore patient trust by facilities and surgeons resuming surgery.”

Part two is the “surgery-specific checklist.” Building on the facility readiness items in part one, this list includes considerations about how staff clean areas where the surgery will take place and sterilize the instruments used during the procedure. Many surgical professionals may read these checklists and recognize the recommendations as standard operating procedure — but with extra due diligence included for good measure.

“It is recommended that an overarching policy is in place to pace care deliberately and slow down processes (i.e., six second rule) to assure disciplined following of new policies and avoid errors,” the ACS stressed.

In the forthcoming July issue of Same-Day Surgery, author Melinda Young will report on how surgery centers have strengthened infection control measures and PPE usage in these months following the most intense part of the COVID-19 crisis. Physicians and infectious disease experts will talk about what is needed as the industry slowly tries to restart familiar operations.

The July issue also will include a report about a simulation program at Florida Atlantic University that guides surgery center physicians and staff on the right way to don and doff PPE so that everyone is safe.

For all the latest Relias Media COVID-19 coverage, please click here.