March 23, 2020 / TARA BANNOW
UPMC on Monday defended its policy of continuing to perform elective procedures on a case-by-case basis amid the COVID-19 outbreak, even as nearly 300 doctors urged the health system to cancel such procedures across the board.
In a letter to UPMC administrators signed by 291 of its resident physicians, fellows and attending physicians, the doctors argued that continuing to perform elective procedures and allow outpatient visits would lead to further spread of the novel coronavirus to healthcare workers and patients alike and would use up crucial supplies at a time of national shortages.
“If we do not do this, we face the possibility of shortages of ventilators, oxygen, personal protective equipment, and other resources that are life-saving for both patients and healthcare workers,” the letter said. “If we do not do this, we face the possibility of confronting horrific triage scenarios in which we, the healthcare workers on the ground, must make difficult decisions regarding who gets treatment and who does not.”
Pittsburgh-based UPMC responded in a statement Monday that it’s not always clinically safe to delay procedures. The health system provided the examples of cancer care, heart valve replacements and hernia repair. UPMC said it will continue to serve patients whose procedures are not medically responsible to delay.