Asked and Answered: Are elective surgeries canceled?

FILE - In this Tuesday, Jan. 23, 2018 file photo, a surgeon directs a special camera to be able...
FILE - In this Tuesday, Jan. 23, 2018 file photo, a surgeon directs a special camera to be able to view his patient's cancer tumor on monitors while performing surgery at a hospital in Philadelphia. As the COVID-19 coronavirus spreads, many cancer surgeries are being delayed, stent procedures for clogged arteries have been pushed back and infertility specialists were asked to postpone helping patients get pregnant. In March 2020, doctors in virtually every field are scrambling to alter care.(AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
Updated: Mar. 27, 2020 at 5:46 PM EDT
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SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - Certain medical procedures and surgeries are being put on hold. A federal agency has given guidance and examples, but ultimately it comes down to doctor discretion.

"Please, put off, cancel elective medical and surgical procedures. You don't want to not ever do them, but for the time being, don't do them. Because they also not only consume personal protective equipment, they may also consume some of the things like ventilators that they might need,” NIAID Director Dr. Anthony Fauci said.

So many have asked WTOC what that means for our local hospitals and surgery centers. Are they following those guidelines?

Spokespersons for both hospital systems in Savannah say they are following the CDC guidelines. But again, also point out that the guidelines allow for doctor discretion.

In other words, if a physician decides to move ahead with a surgery,bthe hospital and surgery centers will support them.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services - also known as CMS - has a chart to help doctors decide which surgeries should still happen and those that can wait.

For the surgeries that can wait.

Those include outpatient surgeries for non-life threatening illnesses that involve healthy patients- such as

Carpal tunnel release, colonoscopies, cataracts and endoscopies for unhealthy patients.

Doctors should consider postponement for any surgeries that require:

In-hospital stays for healthy patients that have conditions such as low-risk cancer, non-urgent orthopedic issues - like knee replacements. If the patient is unhealthy - those procedures should be postponed.

Under the CMS guidelines, here are the surgeries that cannot wait:

Health patients that need cancer or neurosurgery.

The same goes for unhealthy patients that need transplants, trauma, have cardiac symptoms or limb threatening surgery, such us if someone is in danger of losing a leg.

Scott Larson with St. Joseph’s Candler said its following those guidelines and sent a statement that reads in part, “We trust that physicians and providers will use their judgment to determine which cases should be scheduled” and the hospital system believes such decisions will aid in efforts to protect patient health, preserve personal protective equipment and other patient care supplies to limit exposure to COVID-19.

Memorial Health also says its following the CMC guidelines and relying on doctor discretion.

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