On March 19, 2020, Governor Kay Ivey issued an Order Suspending Certain Public Gatherings due to COVID-19 (our bulletin regarding this order may be found here) and included the provision that “effective immediately, all elective dental and medical procedures shall be delayed.”
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) also has released guidance (linked here) that offers more details for physicians and other healthcare providers regarding elective and/or planned surgeries and procedures. CMS’s guidance includes a decision tree to assist physicians with determining whether to proceed with a planned surgery or procedure. For example, planned high acuity surgeries involving unhealthy patients with cancer or in need of an organ transplant should not be postponed. In comparison, a physician may consider postponing low acuity surgeries involving patients with low-risk cancers.
When determining whether a planned surgery or procedure should go forward, CMS recommends a physician or healthcare facility consider:
- 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 [note the Alabama-specific restriction on no elective procedures]
If you have any questions or need support in understanding and implementing guidance regarding COVID-19, please contact one of our attorneys.