March 17, 2020

All Non-Essential Surgeries
Must Be Postponed

Ohio Department of Health Director Amy Acton, MD, has ordered hospitals and outpatient surgical centers to postpone all elective, non-essential surgeries and procedures indefinitely.

The order, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, will
become effective Wednesday, March 18, 2020 at 5 p.m.

Read the Order >

Only scheduled surgeries and procedures that meet one or more of the following criteria as it relates to the patient’s medical condition will be allowed:

  • There is a threat to the patient’s life if the surgery or procedure is not performed;
  • There is a threat of permanent dysfunction of an extremity or organ;
  • There is a risk of metastasis or progression of staging;
  • Risk of rapidly worsening to severe symptoms (time sensitivity).

If the surgery or procedure does not meet one of the above criteria, then it must be canceled, Gov. Mike DeWine and Dr. Acton announced on Tuesday. Medical facilities—whether public, private or non-profit—must establish internal operating guidelines to adhere to this order.

Gov. DeWine and Dr. Acton said this decision was made in hopes of freeing up medical personnel and preserving personal medical equipment and supplies for what is anticipated to be an increase in COVID-19 patients in Ohio in the coming weeks who will require serious medical attention, including hospitalization.

While the Ohio State Medical Association (OSMA) fully understands why this action was taken, we know that postponing these procedures may have serious financial consequences for many of you and the staff at your medical practices. We also know that you are greatly concerned about the well-being of your patients and want to be sure that they will receive the appropriate care they deserve.

Furthermore, like you, we still have additional questions about this order, such as:

  • How long will it remain in place?

  • And for the procedures where prior authorization has already been obtained, will you have to go through the process again if the surgery is forced to be canceled under this order? (Discussions with Medicare, Medicaid, and private insurers is underway to address this matter.)

The OSMA will continue to push for answers to these questions and will report back to you as soon as additional details are known.

For those who anticipate experiencing financial hardship,
we encourage you to review the business support provisions
the governor’s office is putting in place

Additionally, we are continuing to watch developments in Washington to determine how provisions in the federal stimulus package might directly support physicians and their practices.

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