Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, surgeons are postponing surgeries that aren’t absolutely necessary. The American College of Surgeons has actually released guidelines for hospitals to follow.
If you are unsure about what constitutes an elective surgery during this pandemic, then you have come to the right place. Here are five things to know about elective surgeries during the pandemic.
#1 Elective surgeries are currently being postponed
The primary reason why elective surgeries are postponed is to conserve critical resources. Since we are in the beginning of a pandemic, medical facilities need to safeguard ventilators and intensive care unit beds. These facilities also need to conserve personal protective equipment such as gowns, gloves, and masks.
By safeguarding critical resources, medical facilities will be prepared for the peak to occur in the next couple of months or so. The ultimate goal is to have enough critical resources to properly take care of every patient in the hospital.
#2 Here are the qualifications of an elective surgery
In most cases, an elective surgery is one that is scheduled many days or weeks in advance because it’s not treating an emergency condition. Surgeries that treat conditions that have been present for quite a while are usually considered elective surgeries.
#3 Doctors will determine who gets surgery on an individual basis
Although most doctors are examining patients individually to determine if they need surgery, a general rule still applies. If performing the surgery would result in a significantly better outcome than delaying the operation, the surgery would then need to be performed immediately.
For example, if a person has a sudden heart attack, doctors would need to perform surgery. On the other hand, if a person needs a valve treatment, the surgery may have to wait, especially if this person has lived with the condition for several years.
In addition to this one basic principle, surgeons are monitoring the pandemic to evaluate which patients can obtain surgery.
#4 Ask questions and be patient if your surgery is postponed
If your surgery has been postponed, the best thing that you can do is stay in touch with your doctor. Regardless of where you live, surgeons are here for you. Most surgeons are answering patient questions on the telephone and online. In addition, many surgeons are offering virtual visits.
Just know that as soon as the curve has flattened, surgeons will be in touch with you regarding rescheduling. For many surgeons, it will be hard for them to predict when elective surgeries will resume as the flattening of the curve is supposed to vary with each state.
Some surgeons may be able to perform elective surgeries as early as June. The coronavirus is a fluid situation, and people should keep in touch with their surgeon to determine exactly when they can receive an elective surgery.
When the flattening of the curve occurs, there should be enough personal protective equipment for elective surgeries. Make sure that you remain patient and understand that surgeons want to take care of you in the best way that they can.
#5 Cancer patients will receive the care they need during this pandemic
More often than not, most cancer patients will be able to undergo surgery because this type of treatment is not considered elective surgery. Depending on a cancer patient’s condition, some doctors may choose to start someone on radiation or chemotherapy and then perform surgery in the future.
The most important thing to keep in mind is that cancer patients will be able to undergo surgery if they need it. If you get cancer during this pandemic, just know that you will still have access to the care that you need.