By: 6 May 2020
Anaesthesiologists provide elective surgery checklist for patients during Covid-19 pandemic

The American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA) is providing post-Covid-19 pandemic guidelines so that patients know when it’s safe to have surgery.

ASA President Mary Dale Peterson explained: “Physicians, hospitals and health systems are eager to resume elective surgeries and patients are looking to have the procedures they planned, before the pandemic put everything on hold. Health systems can ensure these procedures resume safely by following ASA guidance.”

Partnering with other associations, ASA developed a roadmap to help healthcare organisations safely resume elective surgeries by assessing readiness, prioritisation and scheduling. Patients can use the following checklist to ensure their comfort in moving forward with surgery:

  • Cases are decreasing. When the number of new cases in your area has decreased every day for the last two weeks, it is safe to resume elective procedures, as recommended by the ASA and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). 
  • All patients are tested. Before you have surgery, you should be tested for Covid-19. Your health care provider also will ask if you have been exposed to someone with Covid-19 in the past 14 days, or if you have experienced unexplained fever, cough, shortness of breath, chills, muscle pain, headache, sore throat or loss of taste or smell in the last two weeks. While it may be tempting to shrug off these symptoms or potential exposure, it is extremely important to be honest, for your safety and the safety of your surgical team. Patients who have viral infections are at higher risk for complications. A new ASA statement on perioperative testing for Covid-19 provides further explanation.
  • The procedure will be performed in a safe environment. Performing procedures in a location separate from where Covid-19 patients are being treated, such as an ambulatory care centre or in a different part of the hospital, protects you and your surgical team.
  • The facility has created a Covid-19 surgical care plan. The ASA recommends healthcare facilities adopt Covid-19-related policies that address every stage of surgical care, from before the procedure to post-discharge care planning.

Physicians are there to answer questions and concerns and are working to create the safest environment possible for patients to have their surgery. In many areas, elective surgeries have not been performed for more than a month, meaning there will be a backlog and it may take time to schedule procedures. 

Beyond Covid-19 safety, patients can learn more about outpatient surgery and review Preparing for Surgery: an Anesthesia Checklist to be sure they are fully prepared for their long-awaited elective procedure.