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March 20, 2020

The WSMA, State Specialty and County Societies Support Gov. Inslee's Decision on Elective Surgeries

SEATTLE - Washington state Governor Jay Inslee has issued a proclamation that prohibits all hospitals, ambulatory surgery facilities, dental, orthodontic and endodontic offices in Washington state from providing health care services, procedures, and surgeries that, if delayed, are not anticipated to cause harm to the patient within the next three months, with some exceptions.

As the facts and situation around novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 and its associated respiratory illness, COVID-19, continue to evolve, and in step with Gov. Inslee's proclamation, the WSMA and over 20 state specialty and county medical societies have issued recommended guidance for physicians in Washington state that follows the governor's mandate.

"This is not guidance that we issue lightly," said Bill Hirota, M.D., president of the WSMA. "The spread of COVID-19 will be determined by our collective actions now. We believe by taking these recommended precautions, physicians can make a difference in helping to preserve the limited supply of PPE critical for emergency care and frontline health care personnel responding to the pandemic, and keeping themselves, their patients, and their communities safe."

Examples of procedures to delay include joint replacements, most cataract and lens surgeries, cosmetic procedures and other non-urgent procedures.

The order does not apply to outpatient visits delivered in hospital-based clinics.

Also exempt are patients with emergency/urgent needs like heart attacks, strokes or motor vehicle accidents, and surgeries that, if not performed, would worsen the patient's condition.

WSMA is also encouraging practices to move routine care and chronic care management to telehealth.

"As health care professionals, we all have a role to play in slowing the spread of COVID-19 and 'flattening the curve,' by following sound scientific and public health advice, helping to limit infections, and slowing the spread of the virus," Hirota said.

Signing in support of this statement:
Benton Franklin County Medical Society
Clark County Medical Society
Grays Harbor County Medical Society
Jefferson County Medical Society
King County Medical Society
Kitsap County Medical Society
Northwest Washington Medical Society
Spokane County Medical Society
Thurston-Mason County Medical Society
Washington Academy of Eye Physicians and Surgeons
Washington Academy of Family Physicians
Washington Academy of Physician Assistants
Washington Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics
Washington Chapter of the American College of Emergency Physicians
Washington Chapter of the American College of Physicians
Washington State Chapter of the American College of Surgeons
Washington State Council of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
Washington State Medical Oncology Society
Washington State Orthopaedic Association
Washington State Radiological Society
Washington State Society for Post Acute and Long Term Medicine
Washington State Urology Society
Yakima County Medical Society

For more information, contact:

Cindy Sharpe
813.244.2883 (office/mobile)

Graham Short
206.956.3633 (cell/text)

About the WSMA

The Washington State Medical Association represents nearly 11,000 physicians, physician assistants, resident physicians and medical students in Washington state. The WSMA has advocated on behalf of the house of medicine more than 125 years. Our vision is to make Washington state the best place to practice medicine and receive care.

Join or renew your membership today