This week, Gov. Inslee, as part of the 'state of emergency' declaration in Washington state over the COVID-19 virus, has 'banned' certain surgical procedures. The statement from his office read in part:

"Inslee announced new restrictions today on non-urgent medical and dental procedures so the state can make sure Washington health care workers have enough protective equipment to wear as they work the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic. Today’s order applies to any non-urgent procedure that requires medical professionals to wear personal protective equipment.

This impacts all hospitals, ambulatory surgery centers, and dental, orthodontic and endodontic offices in Washington. The governor’s proclamation makes clear that this restriction does not apply to treatment for patients with emergency and urgent needs.

There are exceptions. For example, doctors can perform an elective surgery if delaying the surgery would cause harm to the patient within the next three months."

Some examples of what the state considers 'elective' procedures were included in release:

"Banned procedures include (but are not limited to):

  • most joint replacements
  • most cataract and lens surgeries
  • non-urgent cardiac procedures
  • cosmetic procedures
  • some endoscopy
  • some interventional radiology services

This order does not apply to patients with heart attacks, strokes or motor vehicle accidents. Hospitals and ambulatory surgery centers may perform surgery as long as a delay or cancellation would worsen the patient’s condition. For example, the prohibition would not apply to a patient who needs a serious cancerous tumor removed, or a patient who needs their dentist to relieve pain or manage an infection."

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