Safety is always a top priority in any healthcare situation, but COVID-19 has introduced new complications. The coronavirus is part of our current reality, and safety measures wouldn’t be complete if they didn’t address it. What can increase operating room safety during this time?
Test When Possible
As we know now, it’s possible that people without symptoms can have COVID-19. However, even when people are asymptomatic, the virus is still a significant factor in surgery. As a result, before scheduled surgeries, patients are typically contacted, asked about symptoms, and scheduled for coronavirus testing, even if they do not show symptoms of the virus.
Testing helps reduce the likelihood of anyone undergoing a procedure while possibly infected and increases the possibility of a smooth recovery. As we’ve learned since the beginning of the pandemic, COVID-19 can affect various systems of the body; as a result, it has the potential to cause serious complications for someone recovering from surgery.
During this time, especially when a community is in the middle of a COVID-19 wave, it’s important to determine if the surgical procedure is necessary right now. This is done by conducting triage with the patient’s health interests as the guiding principle and weighing public health concerns as a strong secondary consideration. If the procedure is not an emergency, it may be in the patient’s best interests to delay it until a safer time.
Triaging cases is important for another reason, as well. When a community is experiencing a COVID-19 surge, and all available beds are needed, ORs may be converted to ICUs. This limits ORs and may require delaying all non-emergency procedures. If ORs are used for non-emergency surgical procedures, it would cause delays for emergency procedures, resulting in worse outcomes, including loss of life.
Assume COVID-19 When the Patient Hasn’t Been Tested
What happens in an emergency? For example, what if someone is in a serious car accident and needs emergency surgery? In some cases, there may not be time for a test. That’s why some policies are simple: if anyone comes into the trauma bay, we treat them presumptively as if they have COVID.
In some cases, the test results may not be available quickly enough. If a hospital’s test results take 24 hours and the patient’s status does not allow for a 24-hour wait, the case is considered an emergency, and the patient is presumed to be COVID-19 positive. This is a case of better safe than sorry; if the patient is assumed to be positive, the OR team can follow all safety protocols. This will keep the patient and the OR team safer.
Keep Up the Good Work
At 365 Healthcare Staffing Services, we specialize in the recruitment and placement of healthcare professionals in per diem, travel, and permanent assignments in healthcare facilities across the country. We know you’re working hard to increase safety, and we thank you for your service. When you’re ready for your next assignment, call us at 310.436.3650.