March 21, 2020 / Jayne O’DonnellUSA TODAY
U.S. hospitals face a critical shortage of protective equipment and top federal officials have called for a halt to non-emergency surgeries amid the coronavirus pandemic. But some hospitals are ignoring the directive, raising concerns that patients and medical staff are at risk.
Hospitals including University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, Virginia Hospital Center in Arlington and Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami as of Friday afternoon were still performing elective surgeries, such as for orthopedic problems, cataracts and other non-essential medical issues. Nearly 300 doctors, nurses and other UPMC employees signed a letter that went to members of management last night urging the health system to “postpone procedures that can be performed in the future, and prepare for the influx of patients that will urgently need our care in the coming weeks.”
Elective surgery is a medical procedure scheduled in advance because it does not involve an emergency. Frequently, they are not a medical necessity. Examples include knee replacements or nose jobs.