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Have elective surgeries been suspended? If I am a doctor or dentist, can I perform elective surgeries?

Last Updated: 05/19/2020

All elective surgeries or invasive procedures, both medical and dental, were suspended in New Jersey on March 27. These will be permitted to resume on Tuesday, May 26.

The Department of Health has issued guidance for hospitals and for ambulatory surgery centers to begin resuming surgeries.

Facilities resuming elective services are required to:

  • Comply with state and CDC guidelines to protect against further spread of COVID-19;
  • Institute screening of staff for symptoms and have policies in place for removal of symptomatic employees;
  • Enforce social distancing requirements in work and common areas;
  • Require masks for patients, except patients receiving services that would not allow for masking;
  • When possible, establish non-COVID care zones in facilities that serve both COVID-19 and non-COVID patients;
  • Have an established plan for cleaning and disinfection prior to using facilities to serve non-COVID patients;
  • Facilities providing COVID-19 care should continue to be prepared for potential surges;
  • Facilities should be prepared to modify resumptions of clinical services in conjunction with surge status and to repurpose and redeploy staff to urgent care roles to the extent feasible.

Ambulatory Surgical Centers should not perform procedures on COVID-19 positive patients.

Hospitals should have available and staffed ICU, Critical Care, and Medical Surgical beds. They must have a sustained downward trajectory for 14-day period of influenza-like illness or COVID-19 like illness; COVID-19 infection rates; COVID-19 hospitalizations; COVID-19 emergency room admissions; COVID-19 ICU, critical care and medical surgical bed use; ventilator use; and ventilatory availability.

Facilities must also have a plan for patient and patient support person use of PPE.

Facilities must implement disinfection and cleaning protocols and cohort COVID-19 patients and non-COVID patients.

No visitors should be allowed except for limited circumstances, which includes labor and delivery and pediatric patient surgery.

Until May 26, all medical and dental operations that can be delayed without undue risk to the current or future health of the patient, as determined by the patient's physician or dentist, are suspended.

Physicians and dentists, who are planning to perform surgery or invasive procedures in their offices, must consider the potential burden of post-surgery complications on local hospitals prior to performing any operation.

Facilities are required to immediately notify patients whose operations have to be suspended.

The suspension does not limit access to family planning services, including termination of pregnancies.

In addition, Governor Phil Murphy signed Executive Order No. 109, which required any business, non-hospital health care facility, or institution of higher learning in possession of personal protective equipment (PPE), ventilators, respirators, or anesthesia machines not required for the provision of critical health care services to undertake an inventory of these supplies. This information should have been submitted via by 5:00 pm on Friday, March 27.

Source: Executive Order No. 109; Executive Order No. 145