As the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) continues to sweep the nation and many states begin to impose shelter-in-place rules, the American College of Surgeons (ACS) continues to prioritize the safety of its members and their patients. The ACS is closely monitoring the situation as it unfolds and is collaborating with groups representing all members of the operating room (OR) team to address the situation for our patients and for our profession. To that end, we have developed guidelines with various specialties, facilities, and thought leaders to help inform the decision making occurring at the local level regarding curtailing elective procedures. A summary of those guidelines are follow, with the complete guidelines available on our website.
As this issue of Bulletin: ACS COVID-19 Update clearly demonstrates, one positive to emerge from this public health crisis is that the global surgery community is united in its commitment to apply evidence-based medicine to ensure the well-being and safety of health care professionals and patients. For example, one story describes how surgeons in two hot zones—Seattle, WA, and Milan, Italy—collaborated to implement a system for triaging patients.
Investigators at King’s Critical Care, King’s College, Cambridge, U.K., are studying the pathophysiology, signs and symptoms, disease course, blood counts, treatment options, and more to help eradicate the virus. These investigators are demonstrating the true spirit of scientific inquiry with the goal of improving patient well-being.
Meanwhile, physicians in Singapore, which has rather successfully contained the virus, describe in the Canadian Journal of Anesthesiology protocols to control the airflow and workflow in the OR to ensure that COVID-19-positive patients receive necessary surgical care without the risk of contaminating equipment used on patients who do not have the virus.
Similarly, our patients are being urged to self-isolate to help limit their own exposure to the virus and to help prevent asymptomatic patients from spreading it to other members of the community. In Chicago, IL, the College’s headquarters city, Emily Landon, MD, chief infectious disease epidemiologist, University of Chicago Medicine, gave a clear and incisive speech on the importance of sheltering in place moments after Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker issued a stay-at-home ordinance that took effect Saturday evening.
An article in the New York Times focuses on the importance of addressing this issue in the next seven to 14 days. Ezekiel J. Emanuel, MD, an oncologist and bioethicist, emphasizes the importance of ramping up testing, describes the effects of the virus on economy, and urges a more uniform approach to encouraging Americans to shelter in place.
Meanwhile, an article in Politico speculates on the long-term effects of the pandemic. It is always hard to prognosticate as to how this crisis will affect surgeons and their patients in the years to come, but the Regents, Officers, and staff of the ACS anticipate that this newsletter will be a helpful resource for you in the days ahead.
The American College of Surgeons is committed to providing the surgical community with information that can guide quality care during the COVID-19 global health pandemic. College leadership and others review information before it is released. However, given the nature of the situation and how quickly the science is evolving, what is presently thought to be accurate may change. Information will be updated whenever possible.