American College of Surgeons Releases Tools to Prepare Patients for Operations During COVID-19

As healthcare facilities resume operations paused due to COVID-19, a new survey shows a majority of people are reluctant to undergo procedures and may not reschedule necessary care while COVID-19 continues to circulate in communities. To help surgeons and hospitals address patient concerns, the American College of Surgeons (ACS) has released a new resource document, Preparing to have surgery during the time of COVID-19.

It includes a patient-surgeon discussion guide with suggested questions patients can ask their surgeon to feel more prepared about returning to a health care facility for their procedure. The guide also covers common concerns such as how the check-in process has changed, what to expect during appointments, safeguards to prevent the spread of COVID-19, and how the ongoing pandemic may change after-operation care.

New research found more than a third of patients would not feel comfortable returning to care until at least three months have passed after COVID-19 restrictions are lifted in their area, and one in five would not feel comfortable until over six months have passed.* Yet some patients are delaying necessary and potentially lifesaving care. Having frank and open discussions with their surgeons may help ease patients’ anxieties about returning for care soon enough to avoid further complications that could result if procedures are delayed.

The Preparing to have surgery during the time of COVID-19 discussion guide is designed to alleviate patient anxiety and help surgeons address their concerns. The ACS also created a companion document to help surgeons prepare answers to anticipated patient questions and enlist members of the patient’s care team and facility’s administration as part of the preparation process.

“Pausing most surgical care helped hospitals prepare to treat patients with COVID-19 and secure necessary equipment,” said David B. Hoyt, MD, FACS, ACS executive director. “With the right protocols in place, many hospitals can now begin to resume operations to avoid further delays that can impact patient outcomes. For patients to feel comfortable returning, they need to clearly understand the safety measures hospitals have put it place and how the care experience will be different now than it was before the pandemic.”

The new tools complement the hospital guidance document ACS released on April 17. Since COVID-19 is impacting communities in different ways, the ACS recommends facilities take several important issues into consideration, including their community’s COVID numbers, personal protective equipment availability, adequate workforce, patient communication protocols, and the ability to deliver safe, high-quality care across the five phases of surgical care. Surgeons should discuss how their facility has addressed these multiple issues with patients to build their understanding of how surgical care during COVID has been carefully planned based on the best available evidence.

Source: American College of Surgeons

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