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    COVID-19: Postponing Elective Surgical Procedures

    Across the US – and around the world – elective surgical procedures like joint replacement are being deferred in favor of prioritizing healthcare resources for the management of patients with coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

    The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), and the American College of Surgeons (ACS) have separately issued recommendations that impact elective procedures in outpatient and inpatient facilities in the US.

    • The CDC recommends that surgeons reschedule elective surgeries as necessary and shift elective urgent inpatient diagnostic and surgical procedures to outpatient settings, when feasible. Non-urgent outpatient visits should be rescheduled as necessary.
    • The CMS recommends that non-essential surgeries and procedures be delayed during the outbreak of novel coronovirus to preserve personal protective equipment (PPE), beds, and ventilators for use with patients with COVID-19.
    • The ACS recommends that hospitals, health systems, and surgeons enact plans to minimize, postpone, or cancel elective operations at the current time until we are “confident that our health care infrastructure can support a potentially rapid and overwhelming uptick in critical patient care needs.” The ACS calls on surgeons to take a leadership role in their practice settings so that these recommendations can begin to take effect immediately.

    The CDC’s Interim Guidance for Healthcare Facilities: Preparing for Community Transmission of COVID-19 in the United States can be accessed here.

    The CMS Adult Elective Surgery and Procedures Recommendations can be accesssed here.

    The ACS’s Recommendations for Management of Elective Surgical Procedures can be accessed here.