April 10, 2020 / Karin Best
The novel coronavirus, COVID-19, has taken the world by storm. No one could have ever imagined the scale and intensity of this pandemic, which has upended every aspect of life as we know it. A big criticism of the US health care system is its collective inability to implement a preemptive strategy that may have mitigated the damage done to health care workers, patients, hospitals, and the economy.
In order to be part of the solution, it is incumbent on orthopedic surgeon thought leaders, who by and large have been sidelined during the pandemic, to come up with next step strategies in the COVID-19 era. This strategy will include creating a pathway back to elective surgery once the threat from COVID-19 is diminished. This crisis has made clear the need for all stakeholders, including physicians, healthcare workers, hospital administrators, insurance companies, and, perhaps most importantly, our legislators, to row in the same direction in order to get our health care system back on its feet.
The Role of Ambulatory Surgery Centers
Ambulatory Surgery Centers (ASCs) provide a cost-effective and efficient health care delivery model. Stakeholders include physicians, who force a thoughtful approach to resource utilization in their ASCs. There are many peer-reviewed articles and presentations that have demonstrated the safety and efficacy of outpatient surgery. As we start to bring back elective surgery, we will need to consider the safest possible pathway for patients, physicians, and health care workers. This is a shared responsibility, and the small format of most ASCs allows full control and adherence to diligent safety protocols. Additionally, because freestanding ASCs have no emergency rooms, sick patients, or intensive care unit beds, there is a well-understood decrease in the overall infection risk.