CHICAGO, Ill. (Ivanhoe Newswire) — As elective surgeries get the green light to resume, some patients may have concerns about getting surgery during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Debbie Doran is an avid exerciser and traveler, but she was sidelined by knee pain.
“I couldn’t walk. My knee hurt that bad,” shared Doran.
Then, COVID-19 sidelined her knee replacement surgery … twice.
“Because of COVID, it was cancelled. Then we rescheduled for April and, it was cancelled,” continued Doran.
As elective surgeries begin to resume, some doctors are recommending their patients have surgery now in case there is another spike in COVID cases.
Richard Berger, MD, an orthopedic Surgeon at Midwest Orthopaedics at Rush said, “I tell my patients now is the best time to get surgery because if it gets bad, we may have to cancel elective surgeries or at least postpone them again.”
But is getting surgery at the hospital safe?
“Other than staying home, it’s about the safest place you can possibly go,” continued Dr. Berger.
Parag Patel, MD, an anesthesiologist at Rush University Medical Center stated, “We keep up-to-date with all the most current guidelines put out there by the Department of Public Health as well as the CDC.”
For elective surgeries, hospitals are implementing new protocols to keep everyone safe.
“We do a screening out front before they come in. Check their temperatures. Check for any symptoms. We are testing all of our patients for COVID before they come in for surgery,” said Dr. Patel.
And for high-risk procedures, a clear drape or plastic box is placed over patients to reduce the risk of spread. After months of waiting, Doran is finally able to have her knee replacement surgery.
“I thought, you know what, why not just get this over with because I got a lot of living to do here,” said Doran.
Including watching one of her daughters walk down the aisle next year.
With the pause in elective surgeries, experts say it may take up to three or four months to resolve the back log of surgeries.
Contributors to this news report include: Milvionne Chery, Producer; and Roque Correa, Editor.
GET YOUR ELECTIVE SURGERIES NOW!
BACKGROUND: As COVID-19 continues to spread from person-to-person, hospitals and health care systems are seeing more and more numbers of critically ill people. Therefore, non-emergency procedures and surgeries are being postponed. A few examples of non-emergency procedures are: cataract surgery, knee or hip replacements, hernia repair, or some plastic or reconstructive procedures. Each doctor will assess your condition and determine if it will worsen without surgery and whether other treatments are available. They will also evaluate the individual risk of coming to the hospital, office, or surgery center for surgery during the pandemic.
THE WHY AND WHEN OF SURGERY: Questions of why my surgery is being postponed and when will my surgery be scheduled are constantly under review. Non-emergency procedures require masks, gloves and gowns, all of which are in short supply right now and needed by health care providers in the hardest-hit areas caring for COVID-19 patients. Patients, their family, or even caretakers might have an undiagnosed case of COVID-19 which could be transmitted to the health care staff and others in the hospital. Health care workers are already strained with caring for critically ill patients making it difficult to take on any more cases. And, operating rooms house the ventilators which are needed for use on COVID-19 patients, so not to be occupied by an elective surgery patient who doesn’t require the use of one. To answer the question of when elective surgeries may take place depends on the speed in which the COVID-19 crisis resolves; the health status of the patient and need for an operation; the surgical team’s schedule; and availability of the facility to schedule the surgery. It is recommended for the patient to keep in contact with the doctor to evaluate the best time for elective surgery.
RESUMING ELECTIVE SURGERY: A group of physicians published a guidance document with recommendations for the reintroduction of elective orthopedic surgical procedures during COVID-19. “The document provides recommendations that will help reduce the risk of transmission of SARS-CoV-2, and for that matter other pathogens, during surgical procedures. The guidelines are intended to keep patients, health care staff and the society safe while allowing us to deliver care to patients who have been selflessly waiting to have their surgical problem assessed,” said Javad Parvizi, MD, FRCS, James Edwards Professor of Orthopedic Surgery at the Sidney Kimmel Medical College and of Rothman Institute at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital. It is recommended to resume elective surgery when lockdown in the region has been lifted and a mandate allowing return to elective surgery has been issued by local, state, and government authorities. The surgical facility should have the capacity to admit patients without COVID-19 to an area of the hospital separated from patients infected before resuming elective surgery. It is also recommended for hospital staff to limit the number of people in the operating room; reduce door opening in the operating room; cautiously use electrocautery and judiciously use suction to remove smoke; keep the power setting to low as possible when high-power tools are being used; and keep equipment in the room to a minimum.
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