How We Can Resume Elective Spine Surgeries After COVID-19

Category: Spine Surgery | Author: Stefano Sinicropi


Emergency surgeries are still being performed in Minnesota and across the US, but many elective surgeries have been put on hold for the time being. According to many of the charts, Minnesota is now past their peak in terms of resources needed to help those affected by COVID-19, so we should soon be able to open up more surgical facilities and resume these elective operations. Below, we take a look at the joint recommendations from the American Hospitals Association and American College of Surgeons as to how we can safely begin to perform more elective spine surgeries in Minnesota and throughout the US.

Safely Resuming Elective Spine Surgeries

According to the AHA and other medical organizations, keeping the following protocols in mind can help us safely begin performing more elective spine surgeries in the near future:

  1. Timing for Reopening of Elective Surgery Principle – There should be a sustained reduction in the number of new cases over at least a 14 day period before reopening elective surgeries.
  2. COVID-19 Testing within a Facility Principle – Most facilities that are still functioning in some capacity already have these strict requirements in place, but all facilities that will be performing elective surgeries when allowed to reopen should ensure they either have access to testing, are screening patients for symptoms, or are making sure only patients who are not showing symptoms and who have no reason to believe they have contracted the virus are the ones coming into the clinic.
  3. Personal Protective Equipment Principle – Facilities shouldn’t resume elective surgeries until they can ensure they have the appropriate level of personal protective equipment and surgical supplies appropriate to the number and type of surgical procedure being performed.
  4. Case Prioritization and Scheduling Principle – Surgery centers should establish a prioritization schedule to ensure patients are seen based on appropriate health and necessity factors. While these surgeries are considered elective, there are still patients whose surgeries are more urgent than others, and surgery centers should consider these needs when deciding who gets scheduled first.
  5. Post-COVID-19 Issues for the Five Phases of Surgical Care Principle – Facilities should consider how COVID-19, even as new cases are falling, could impact the Preoperative, Immediate Preoperative, Intraoperative, Postoperative and Post Discharge Care Planning stages of surgery.
  6. Collection and Management of Data Principle – Facilities should continue to adapt their best practices based on the new information we gather as we continue to work our way along the downslope of new cases. What works today may not be what’s best tomorrow, so we need to continue learning from new information that becomes available.
  7. COVID-related Safety and Risk Mitigation Surrounding Second Wave Principle – Even as we emerge from the pandemic, we need to continue practicing social distancing and good hygiene behaviors throughout the facility. Facilities should also consider restricting non-essential foot traffic into their waiting rooms, and patients should not bring visitors unless it is absolutely necessary.

If we can keep these seven tips in mind, we should be able to slowly begin performing elective surgeries without seeing a second wave of cases. It is up to each individual facility and their patients to do their part in helping reduce the spread of the coronavirus even as surgical centers and the economy begin to reopen. To learn how we’re doing our part, contact Dr. Sinicropi’s office today.

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