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Outpatient elective surgeries to resume under Trump recovery plan

par John R. Fischer, Senior Reporter | April 20, 2020
Operating Room
Phase one of Trump's plan to restart the U.S. economy allows for outpatient elective surgeries to resume.
Outpatient elective surgeries will soon be able to resume, according to President Donald J. Trump’s Opening America plan.

The three-phased outline describes how the government plans to restart the U.S. economy, with phase one allowing for outpatient elective operations to resume, “as clinically appropriate,” at facilities that adhere to CMS guidelines, reports Politico.

“We appreciate the president’s announcement tonight, of a plan that would safely allow elective surgeries to resume,” AdvaMed president and CEO Scott Whitaker said in a statement. “The term ‘elective surgeries’ implies they’re procedures patients choose to have, but in reality means surgeries or procedures that are ‘scheduled,’ are important to the patient’s health, and must often be performed. As the plan is implemented, we must ensure that patients who need lifesaving care can receive it.”

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Restrictions and deferrals on elective surgery and other types of procedures have strained revenue streams for healthcare providers. Outpatient facilities have especially been hit hard, with outpatient imaging practices suffering a 70% decline in their revenue.

Phase two of the plan will see the restart of inpatient elective procedures, though hospitals are encouraged to continue enforcing strict visitor bans as well as continue using telecommunications for their business operations whenever possible and feasible.

Visits will resume upon the initiation of phase three, provided residents and patients practice diligent hygiene.

While some organizations seek for elective procedures to commence as soon as possible, others are cautious about doing so while the COVID-19 pandemic continues, due to fears of the virus spreading and the shortage of necessary personal protective equipment. The Oklahoma Hospital Association, the Oklahoma State Medical Association and the Oklahoma Nurses Association, for instance, recently came out against Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt for his goal to resume elective surgeries as soon as next week, according to The Oklahoman.

“At this point Oklahoma has yet to hit the surge, so we want to be cautious in regard to jeopardizing people's lives,” said ONA in a statement. “Allowing elective surgeries too early puts both patients and providers at risk. Our hearts go out to those patients that have had to put off cancer-related surgeries, joint replacements, and other elective surgeries but it is important that there is a plan in place to ensure the safety of these patients.”

The plan has been released for state governors to implement it at their own discretion.

A specific time frame for the plan was not mentioned.

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