doctors performing surgery

How Coronavirus is Affecting Elective Surgery

In the wake of the coronavirus crisis, hospitals have been urged to put a stop to elective surgeries for reasons including the safety of patients, hospital staff, and conservation of resources. However, not all elective surgeries can afford to be postponed. This leaves both hospitals and patients in very difficult positions.

A surgery being called elective does not mean that it’s optional, it only means that the surgery is not immediately life-threatening and able to be scheduled in advance. While elective surgery is sometimes meant only to improve the quality of life of the patient, it is also used to refer to certain surgeries for serious conditions, such as cancer. Unfortunately, as cases of coronavirus increase and hospitals are forced to conserve resources, elective surgeries are being canceled, but can patients really afford for these procedures to be canceled?

The American College of Surgeons is recommending that elective surgery be reduced by canceling them. However, even the FACS recognizes that determining which procedures to cancel is not that simple. According to the FACS website, “It is not possible to define the medical urgency of a case solely on whether a case is on an elective surgery schedule. While some cases can be postponed indefinitely, the vast majority of the cases performed are associated with progressive disease (such as cancer, vascular disease, and organ failure) that will continue to progress at variable, disease-specific rates. As these conditions persist, and in many cases, advance in the absence of surgical intervention, it is important to recognize that the decision to cancel or perform a surgical procedure must be made in the context of numerous considerations, both medical and logistical. Indeed, given the uncertainty regarding the impact of COVID-19 over the next many months, delaying some cases risks having them reappear as more severe emergencies at a time when they will be less easily handled.”  

One problem in postponing these procedures for an indefinite period of time is that it could potentially lead to complications for non-serious conditions, resulting in patients requiring emergency care. It can also potentially lead to patients requiring more resources than they would have needed if the procedure had taken place when originally scheduled. Unfortunately, if cases of coronavirus continue to increase, hospitals may end up in a position that will leave them without the resources to properly attend to them. In addition to this, hospitals are already dealing with a lack of resources including personal protective equipment, and these procedures could end up putting a strain on the few resources hospitals currently have. However, performing the surgeries puts patients at risk. After surgery, the immune system is weakened, and this will put patients at greater risk of complications from coronavirus if they become infected.

There is no easy answer as to whether or not hospitals should go through with elective surgeries at this time. There are strong arguments for hospitals to continue them, and equally as strong arguments for why elective surgery must be postponed until this crisis is over. 

We are here for our patients and willing to do what we can to provide you with the help you need. We offer telehealth services in order to help you begin the process of evaluation for the Discseel® Procedure, though we still require an in-person physical evaluation before the procedure can be done. We would also like to remind our patients and anyone considering the Discseel® Procedure that our facilities are ambulatory surgical centers with the highest standards of cleanliness and meant solely for the use of our clients. Thanks to these standards, none of our patients have ever experienced a communicable infection at any of our facilities, and we will continue to follow these standards in the future.

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