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Our attorneys stay on top of changes in legislation, agency regulations, case law, and industry trends—then craft timely legal alerts to keep clients up to date on legal developments important to their business.

March 23, 2020

CMS Recommends Postponing Non-Essential Adult Elective Surgeries Amid COVID-19

On March 18, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) issued guidance recommending that all non-essential adult elective surgeries and procedures be limited or delayed until further notice. The CMS recommends this limitation to conserve critical resources such as ventilators and personal protective equipment (PPE), free up health care workers to care for the patients who are most in need, and limit the exposure of patients and staff to COVID-19.

As part of its guidance, the CMS developed a tiered framework to inform health systems and providers on how to consider critical resources and best provide surgical services to individuals whose conditions require emergent or urgent attention. Some instances of emergent attention outlined in the guidance include preserving organ function, saving a life, and avoiding the exacerbation of underlying conditions and diseases.

While the decision of whether to proceed with the procedure is ultimately left to the particular health system, clinician, and patient, the CMS advised that when analyzing the risks and benefits of any planned surgery or procedure, the clinical situation as well as resource conservation must be considered. The CMS urges health systems and providers to consider factors such as the current and projected COVID-19 cases in the facility and region; PPE availability for facilities in the system; the urgency of the procedure; the health and age of the patient; and the availability of ventilators, staff, and beds (especially ICU beds).

More information concerning the CMS’ recommendations as to non-essential adult elective surgery and procedures can be found here.

Barclay Damon’s health care attorneys have extensive experience helping providers and health care systems to navigate state and federal regulatory and compliance matters. Our team is always here to assist you––especially during this unprecedented time.

If you have any questions regarding the content of this alert, please contact Mary Connolly, associate, at or another member of the firm’s Health Care & Human Services Practice Area.


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