HealthDay News — A roadmap for resuming elective surgery after new cases of COVID-19 begin to wane is presented in a joint statement published by the American College of Surgeons and other societies.

The group of societies — American College of Surgeons, American Society of Anesthesiologists, Association of periOperative Registered Nurses, and American Hospital Association — provide a list of principles and considerations to guide physicians, nurses, and local facilities in the resumption of elective surgeries and of care in operating rooms.

According to the report, the principle underlying timing for reopening of elective surgery should be a sustained reduction in the rate of new COVID-19 cases in the relevant geographic area for at least 14 days; in addition, the facility should have the appropriate number of beds, personal protective equipment (PPE), ventilators, and trained staff to treat all nonelective patients without resorting to crisis standard of care. Whenever possible, facilities should use available testing to protect staff and patient safety and should implement a policy addressing the requirements and frequency of staff and patient testing. A prioritization strategy should be developed appropriate to the immediate patient needs. Policies addressing care issues specific to COVID-19 and the postponement of surgical scheduling should be adopted; policies are needed for preoperative, immediate preoperative, intraoperative, postoperative, and postdischarge care planning. Facilities should reevaluate and reassess policies and procedures frequently. Facilities should implement social distancing in nonrestricted areas to mitigate the risk for a second wave of COVID-19.

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“When the first wave of this pandemic is behind us, the pent-up patient demand for surgical and procedural care may be immense, and health care organizations, physicians, and nurses must be prepared to meet this demand,” according to the statement.

Joint Statement