COVID-19 - Elective Surgical Procedure Guidance

The Illinois Department of Public Health is recommending cancelling ALL elective surgeries and procedures to immediately decompress the healthcare system during the COVID-19 response that are considered non-emergent or elective.  “Elective” is defined as those procedures that are pre-planned by both the patient and the physician that are advantageous to the patient but are NOT urgent or emergent.  Physicians should use their medical judgement to determine the need for surgery.  This will prevent unnecessary procedures from occurring and potentially exposing others.  During events such as a Pandemic, the healthcare system can easily and quickly become overwhelmed.  Healthcare staff can be reallocated elsewhere to care for the ill during a medical surge.  Accommodations should be made for the need to continue performing emergent procedures.  Considerations should also be made to reallocate healthcare workers, space, and supplies to accommodate a surge of patients seeking care for COVID-19. 

Staffing Considerations 

  • Continue to account for staffing necessary to perform emergent operations or procedures.
  • Cancelling elective procedures to free up nurses, doctors, surgeons, and anesthesia providers to provide care for patients when the system becomes overwhelmed. 
  • Hospitals should set up alternate staffing plans in order to accommodate the influx of patients.
  • Examine utilizing Nurse Anesthetists, Pre/Post-operative Nurses, and Nurse practitioners to provide alternative levels of care elsewhere.
  • Use administrative/clerical staff to possibly set up childcare areas for essential medical staff to continue to work if daycares are closed.
  • Hospitals should assess how to provide just in time training to those staff that could fulfill other roles in a patient care/assistive capacity.

Space Considerations

  • The pre-anesthesia and recovery rooms can then be used for patient care.
  • Outpatient surgery centers affiliated with hospitals could be used for overflow or redirecting of less sick patients in an alternate treatment area and staff could be used there.

Supplies/Resource Considerations

  • Cancelling procedures will also allow for reallocation of PPE that is used for surgical procedures.
  • Beds, stretchers, and linens can be used for inpatient care instead of surgical procedures.
  • Ventilators could be reallocated from surgical areas to patient care areas.