The American Association of Gynecologic Laparoscopists (AAGL) has joined several other ob/gyn organizations to endorse the US Surgeon General's recommendation to suspend elective surgeries amidst the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Other organizations supporting this recommendation include the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), the American Society of Reproductive Medicine (ASRM), the American Urogynecologic Society (AUGS), Society of Family Planning (SFP), Society of Gynecologic Oncology (SGO), Society of Gynecologic Surgeons (SGS) and Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine (SMFM).
As the impact of the pandemic continues to intensify, the resources of the health care system, hospital systems, clinics, and communities will be further strained. The Surgeon General’s statement urging healthcare providers to suspend elective surgeries is part of a broader strategy to free up resources. AAGL notes that surgical procedures performed by ob/gyns are generally medically indicated procedures necessary for patient health and safety. However, in areas where COVID-19 is particularly prevalent or where there is already stress on the health care system, modifying surgical scheduling could help preserve resources.
The organization reiterates that the recommended suspension is for elective procedures only. Obstetric and gynecologic procedures for which a delay could negatively impact the patient’s health or pregnancy should not be delayed. However, it is also important to be cognizant of the unintended effects that COVID-19 cases and policies may have on a healthcare provider’s time, including limiting access to time-sensitive obstetric and gynecological procedures.
At this unusual time and with circumstances rapidly evolving, it is important for ob/gyns to stay updated on the most-up-to-date policies. AAGL recommends consulting the CDC’s Interim Guidance for Healthcare Facilities: Preparing for Community Transmission of COVID-19 in the United States.