Elective Surgery Cancellations During Coronavirus (COVID-19) Outbreak

The U.S. Surgeon General has recommended that hospitals cancel non-essential surgeries and other medical procedures to minimize potential exposure to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) for doctors, hospital staff, and patients.

In New York City, the Mayor has issued a directive to all hospitals to cancel elective surgeries, and many hospitals in our region and across the country are opting to do the same. It is likely that state governments will issue a directive to cancel all elective surgeries.

While this new development may be distressing for anyone who was expecting surgery, the main consideration for us all is to stay safe and to minimize exposure to the virus.

The following is up-to-date information about the cancellation of elective procedures may help answer questions about elective surgeries during this time:

How will hospitals communicate the cancellations with patients?

The hospital will use the contact information they have on file to communicate with patients about changes to the scheduling of upcoming procedures.

Are there exceptions that hospitals will make?

Hospitals will do what is called “triage” to determine where to best allocate their limited resources and to decide whether a procedure can safely be postponed.

Are procedures being rescheduled at this time, or outright cancelled for now?

This will depend upon the provider and the hospital. For now, most providers and facilities will likely cancel and not reschedule for now, in favor of preparing for addressing clinical needs related to coronavirus.

Policies are evolving each day, so for the latest local and national information check in at the website for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). For more local information on this and other issues pertaining to the coronavirus, consult your local public health department: