CMS Adult Elective Surgery and Procedures Recommendations: Limit All Non-Essential Planned Surgeries and Procedures, Including Dental, Until Further Notice

On March 18, 2020, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) issued recommendations to limit all non-essential adult surgeries and dental procedures during the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. This guidance comes as health care providers around the nation try to preserve medical equipment, and their own energy levels, for patients with the most pressing needs. Although the decision to postpone non-essential and dental procedures will ultimately be within the provider’s discretion, the recommendations outline factors that should be considered when analyzing the risks of conducting a procedure. For instance, CMS recommends that the supply of personal protective equipment (PPE), hospital and intensive care beds, and ventilators should be considered at all times—even in areas that are not currently dealing with COVID-19 infections.

With that in mind, CMS suggests that health care providers consider the following factors when deciding whether planned surgery should proceed:

  • Current and projected COVID-19 cases in the facility and region
  • Supply of PPE to the facilities in the system
  • Staffing availability
  • Bed availability, especially intensive care unit (ICU) beds
  • Ventilator availability
  • Health and age of the patient, especially given the risks of concurrent COVID-19 infection during recovery
  • Urgency of the procedure

The recommendations also include a tiered framework which identifies and ranks certain medical conditions and related procedures in terms of urgency. The framework can be found here.


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