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Best Practices for Resuming Outpatient Elective Procedures, Post-PAUSE

New York State-based Ambulatory Surgery Centers, Office-Based Surgery Practices, and Diagnostic & Treatment Centers, following a pause of two months and counting, are eager to resume elective and non-essential procedures. Before doing so, it is important to address several key considerations, as well as have strong policies and protocols in place for inevitable challenges that will arise.

Initially, location matters. ASCs, DTCs, and OBSs are only permitted to resume elective/non-essential procedures if located in an eligible county. Currently, 47 of 62 New York counties are now eligible to resume elective procedures. The five boroughs of New York City, however, are not yet eligible, although the hope is that will change soon. The Governor had set May 29 th as the date for reevaluating the eligibility of remaining counties. 

Once reopening, facilities must abide by COVID-19 guidance recently issued by the NYS DOH, as well as standards applicable to their specialty. For example, facilities must create a protocol for priority of deferred and new procedures and ensuring adequate PPE equipment and levels of staffing – something that may pose a challenge considering the demands placed on NYS healthcare providers over the last few months. Additionally, the DOH requires that all facilities that are resuming procedures have a strict protocol in place for patient testing prior to any elective surgery. Facilities are authorized to deny services to patients refusing COVID-19 testing. Facilities must also create protocols addressing a host of other issues, such as treatment of patients with a positive history of COVID-19, preoperative isolation/quarantine/social distancing policies, screening and preparedness (including an awareness of local healthcare resources/capacity in the event that a patient needs hospitalization), scheduling, and post-operative considerations. Different specialties or facilities may also want to create additional policies specific to their patient populations.

It is also critical that these policies and protocols be properly communicated to staff and patients and evenly enforced. Both to manage their legal risk and reassure anxious patients, facilities are urged to have a thorough plan in place prior to resuming non-elective procedures. 

For guidance on resuming elective procedures or any other issue pertaining to your Ambulatory Surgery Center, Office-Based Surgery Practice, or Diagnostic & Treatment Center, please feel free to contact our health care team at info@mdrxlaw.com or by calling or texting us at 212-668-0200.



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Friday, August 14, 2020