March 18, 2020

ASCA releases guidance on necessary surgeries for ASCs during COVID-19 pandemic

By: Judy Mathias
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Editor's Note

In consultation with clinical experts and in response to government guidance that hospitals and ambulatory surgery centers (ASCs) postpone elective surgical procedures during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Ambulatory Surgery Center Association (ASCA) released a statement March 18 on how and when facilities should proceed with cases that should not be postponed.

Included in the statement:


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  • A surgical procedure may be considered urgent and necessary if the physician decides that a months-long delay would increase the risk of significantly worse morbidity or prognosis for the patient.
  • If a procedure can be safely postponed without significant risk to the patient, it should be delayed until after the pandemic.
  • Physicians should consider the potential for postoperative complications that could place stress on nearby hospitals that may lack capacity for transfers.
  • ASCs should develop explicit controls on how to manage infection risks of nonpatient visitors (eg, patient caregivers, vendors, contractors).
  • ASCs should be prepared for the possibility that hospitals may need to shift necessary surgical procedures to ASCs and/or that their resources will be needed to serve their community and healthcare system in a different capacity.
  • ASCs need to recognized that the pandemic may create situations when they must shut down, such as when a patient, staff member, or physician who has been in the ASC is suspected or diagnoses with COVID-19 or when there is a significant shortage of personal protective equipment (eg, masks, gowns, gloves) that prevents safe practice of surgical cases.

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