One of the major concerns that patients have had concerns the delay in surgery that is occurring because of COVID-19. Hospitals are concerned with potentially overloading their intensive care facilities. Therefore, they are postponing surgery deemed to be elective or not urgent. This has included patients with hernias, reflux, gallbladder disease and many types of cancer.
Unfortunately, this has caused a great deal of stress on the patients who end up being postponed. We as surgeons and health care team players have had to go through “adjudication panels” to get surgeries screened, after which they are only allowed if the panel finds that the surgery is necessary.
I have tried valiantly to get done the procedures that my patients have needed. There have been many truly elective hernias and other procedures that have been with the patient for a number of years, but I had a big problem with trying to postpone the cancer cases that were found.
A number of cancer organizations such as the Society of Surgical Oncology have gone to great lengths to determine which cancers might be safely postponed versus scheduled now. https://www.surgonc.org/resources/covid-19-resources/. Unfortunately, in these desperate times, we will never fully know the impact of postponing these procedures.
I remain a strong patient advocate. I will do what is best for my patients at all times. We all have had to adjust a great deal to the reality that resources have become scarce for hospitals and other health care facilities. But in the end—the patient comes first.