As hospitals and surgeons across the nation resume elective operations, they face yet another challenge: patients who are avoiding hospitals and other health care centers until they are certain the COVID-19 pandemic has ended. An AJC (Atlanta Journal Constitution) article notes that it is not only patients who can now undergo operations that were postponed during the peak of the pandemic who are avoiding health care facilities, but also patients who are experiencing symptoms of impending cardiac arrest, stroke, and other conditions that typically would warrant a trip to the emergency department.
As this article notes, the problem extends to all parts of the country, with patients delaying treatment only to wind up with a much more severe medical condition that requires more costly care or, worse yet, that ends in premature mortality.
It is our responsibility as health care professionals to assure patients that our institutions and offices are clean and safe places where the strictest standards of care are followed. The American College of Surgeons (ACS) urges its members to explain the evidence-based protocols that they have put in place to ensure the delivery of optimal care.
One example of an institution’s efforts to establish guidelines for emergency care is highlighted in this issue of the newsletter. The University of Wisconsin-Madison has developed guidance for providers who are stepping out of their typical scope of work to care for patients with COVID-19 and for the use of ventilators.
In addition, federal agencies, such as the Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, have updated their guidance on the use of promising therapeutics and infection control in and out of the health care setting.
We anticipate that this issue of the newsletter will provide you with the information you need to provide all surgical patients with high-quality, safe, effective care as the states in which you practice begin to reopen, as well as resources you can share with patients to assure them that they are in good hands.