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Member News Alert: March 16

COVID-19 Update for Physicians

The Kentucky Medical Association (KMA) has streamlined its member and public communications to address ONLY COVID-19 issues and is keeping physicians updated with the latest information, which continues to be updated daily and, sometimes, by the hour.

This release to our members addresses issues with medical practices preparing for COVID-19, as well as complying with the Governor’s request to stop all elective surgical procedures by close of business on Wednesday.  Despite the disruption to normal medical practice, the KMA supports this action, which has been taken by other states and countries to try to slow the spread of COVID-19 and prepare health care system resources for its effects.

On March 14, Governor Beshear announced that he is requesting that all hospitals “cease elective procedures by close of business on Wednesday” in order to ensure capacity for the expected COVID-19/coronavirus cases. KMA has been in close contact with the Beshear Administration and the Kentucky Hospital Association (KHA), which today released guidance regarding the definition of an “elective procedure.”

KHA’s statement is available here, but in summary, outlines that an elective procedure be considered one in which “if delayed, in the physician’s judgment will not cause harm to the patient, delay diagnosis, or negatively impact the patient’s life expectancy. Examples include: cataract surgeries, cosmetic surgeries, and some orthopedic cases. Hospitals will continue to provide needed procedures as it is safe to do so, prioritizing care that if delayed could negatively affect the patient’s health outcome, harm the patient, or lead to disability or death.”

KHA also provided Stanford Guidelines for determining the necessity of a scheduled surgery, and stated that KHA and its Chief Medical Officers supported the use of these during the response to the COVID-19 outbreak.  These definitions and guidelines may be useful to physicians, but how they are implemented within each medical system, hospital or practice may vary.

Additional Resources to Review

American Academy of Family Physicians Checklist to Prepare Physician Offices
This is a very useful checklist for practices that Includes information for staff and office preparedness

Centers for Disease Control Steps Healthcare Facilities Can Take Now to Prepare for Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)
How to prepare and communicate with staff and patients, links to additional resources

Centers for Disease Control Interim Guidance for Public Health Personnel Evaluating Persons Under Investigation (PUIs) and Asymptomatic Close Contacts of Confirmed Cases at Their Home or Non-Home Residential Settings
Addresses recommendations for infection prevention and control practices when performed outside a healthcare setting

Letter from Public Health Commissioner Steven Stack, M.D. to Physicians and Healthcare Providers
March 9 letter regarding state laboratory testing for COVID-19

Kentucky Department for Public Health Guidance for Healthcare Providers and Laboratory Services
Links to COVID-19 case reporting forms, guidance for providers and labs

American Medical Association: COVID-19 Frequently Asked Questions
Answers to common questions regarding COVID-19 for physicians