Now that regulations are beginning to lift, surgical practices need to prepare for resuming operations. Most practices will have a backlog of surgeries as well as many new patients waiting. Staff will need to prepare for an extensive workload and ensure that supplies are readily available. Potential state regulations regarding when surgical procedures can be reinstituted, testing requirements, and staffing and equipment requirements will all need to be addressed. Genesis Medical Management, your healthcare solutions experts, has some tips to help your surgical practice prepare for a post COVID-19 pandemic operation.
The first thing that will need to be addressed is implementing COVID-19 testing procedures for patients and staff. A plan should be put into place for responding to positive tests for workers and patients. A policy should be implemented that addresses evidence-based infection prevention techniques to create a safe environment in which elective surgery can occur.
Another aspect that will need to be addressed is surgical supplies and personal protective equipment. Many practices that closed during the crisis donated their equipment to hospitals. Any anesthesia machines returned from COVID-19 and non-COVID-19 use may need re-engineering, testing, and cleaning. Facilities must ensure they have adequate PPE and surgical supplies on hand for the number and types of procedures to be performed. This could prove challenging as suppliers were inundated and facilities closed or short staffed so manufacturing must resume, and backorders filled before new orders can be accommodated. Since all medical facilities are gearing back up their operations, there will be a huge demand that must be addressed.
Staff will need to be trained on any new policies and procedures, including proper use of all PPE and conservation of PPE such as extended use or reuse according to CDC and FDA guidelines. This may be a necessity until suppliers are caught up and able to fill orders as they come in. Staff will also have to be closely monitored for fatigue and stress if their workload is extensive in dealing with the backlog.
Facilities will have to develop prioritizing strategies to address the previously cancelled and postponed cases. This may include a strategy for increasing procedural time availability into the evenings or weekends. If the volume and hours are increased, practices will need to ensure that primary personnel are available (surgery, anesthesia, nursing, housekeeping, engineering, sterile processing, etc.). Also ensure that adjunct personnel are available (pathology, radiology, etc.).
Some other considerations until the COVID-19 crisis has completely run its course include facility and patient safety with COVID-19 considerations. Some considerations include the number of persons that can accompany the procedural patient to the facility and whether visitors in periprocedural areas should be restricted. Social distancing regulations in place locally, statewide, and nationally should all be taken into consideration. Guidelines should be established for presence of non-essential personnel, including students. Facilities should assess the need for revisions of all checklists (nursing, anesthesia, surgery, etc.) regarding COVID-19. Surgeons should discuss advanced directives, especially with post-COVID-19 patients.
Facilities should reevaluate and reassess policies and procedures frequently, based on COVID-19 related data, resources, testing, and other clinical information. Collect and utilize relevant facility data, enhanced by data from local authorities and government agencies as available. Be sure to monitor quality of care metrics (mortality, complications, readmission, errors, near misses, etc.) especially in context of increased volume of procedures. The main objective to keep in mind is whether your facility can perform planned procedures without compromising patient safety or staff safety and well-being. Genesis Medical Management offers personalized healthcare solutions and is here to guide you through the re-opening process following the pandemic crisis.
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