On March 18, 2020, at the White House Task Force Press Briefing, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced that all elective surgeries, non-essential medical, surgical, and dental procedures be delayed during the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.
As more healthcare providers are increasingly being asked to assist with the COVID-19 response, it is critical that they consider whether non-essential surgeries and procedures can be delayed so they can preserve personal protective equipment (PPE), beds, and ventilators.
“The reality is clear and the stakes are high: we need to preserve personal protective equipment for those on the front lines of this fight,” said CMS Administrator Seema Verma.
This will not only preserve equipment but also free up our healthcare workforce to care for the patients who are most in need. Additionally, as states and the nation as a whole work towards limiting the spread of COVID-19, healthcare providers should encourage patients to remain home, unless there is an emergency, to protect others while also limiting their exposure to the virus. They should also urge patients to follow the President’s recently issued guidelines to help slow the spread of the virus.
The recommendations provide a framework for hospitals and clinicians to implement immediately during the COVID-19 response. These proposals outline factors that should be considered for postponing elective surgeries and non-essential medical, surgical, and dental procedures. Those factors include patient risk factors, availability of beds, staff and PPE, and the urgency of the procedure. It will help providers to focus on addressing more urgent cases and preserve resources needed for the COVID-19 response. The decision about proceeding with non-essential surgeries and procedures will be made at the local level by the clinician, patient, hospital, and state and local health departments.
The recommendations can be found here: https://www.cms.gov/files/document/31820-cms-adult-elective-surgery-and-procedures-recommendations.pdf
These recommendations, and earlier CMS guidance and actions in response to the COVID-19 virus, are part of the ongoing White House Task Force efforts. To keep up with the critical work, the Task Force is doing in response to COVID-19 click here www.coronavirus.gov for further information. For a complete and updated list of CMS actions, and other information specific to CMS, please visit the Current Emergencies Website.