What About the Non-COVID-19 Patients?

By ROGER STARK  | 
Apr 17, 2020
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Hundreds of thousands of medical personnel are on the front lines, combating the COVID-19 virus in a fight to save lives. Many hospitals are operating at near-full capacity, especially in their intensive care units and emergency rooms. Many of their patients are fighting for their lives and require labor intensive support.

While society in general and the medical community specifically has prioritized the COVID-19 patients, there are also thousands of patients that need elective surgery and procedures. Many of these patients suffer with pain, disability, and the threat of cancer while awaiting uncertain timing for their medical treatments or surgery.

Proliance Surgeons is a large group of surgeons in the Puget Sound area that performs mostly elective operations. The organization has published a plan for reopening medical facilities to treat patients that could benefit from elective procedures. (here)

From the plan:

“We propose that there exist (relatively) simple, scientifically-validated measures that can be undertaken to alter our care delivery process, which can both address easing of restrictions for elective care in the current crisis, but also proactively allow for prevention of disease spread during the next crisis. These include:

  • Defining tiered levels respiratory infectious disease threat (RIDT);
  • Correlated levels of universal precautions, and PPE use;
  • Social distancing practices in healthcare facilities based on RIDT levels;
  • Ongoing promotion of widespread personal and facility sanitization practices;
  • Eventual use of patient and provider disease testing as a qualifying factor in treatment algorithms
    • ONLY when an effective test is available that can accurately prove the recipient either capable or incapable of transmitting disease.”

This is a common sense and medically sound plan that can provide timely treatments for the thousands of patients who could benefit from elective interventions.