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What to do if your elective surgery is postponed

When a COVID-19 outbreak engulfs a community, overburdened hospitals are forced to postpone elective procedures. The schedule changes are required to make place for COVID patients, allow all hands on deck for crisis care, and protect community members from unnecessary COVID exposure. This predicament could worsen if the flu season isn't mild this year — another reason to get that flu shot!

The postponement of an elective operation is upsetting and leaves you with two options:

While you wait for the all-clear, you'll have to deal with your illness.

When you get the call that it's back on, you'll have to be ready for your procedure.

Continue reading to learn how to deal with both situations.

To begin, what is considered elective surgery?

All surgical operations involve the removal of skin and tissue with various tools and techniques. However, unlike heart surgery performed in response to blocked arteries, elective surgery is not performed in an emergency. It's a procedure that can be safely planned ahead of time. That isn't to suggest it isn't significant.

An elective surgery could be performed.

minor, such as surgery to cure carpal tunnel syndrome (an entrapped nerve in the wrist) or surgery to remove a cataract (cloudy lens) in the eye major, such as a hip or knee replacement or surgery to repair a prolapsed (fallen) uterus
It is not always easy to determine whether surgery is voluntary. It sometimes relies on your health situation. Depending on the person's condition, surgery to replace a heart valve may or may not be considered an emergency.

Getting by while waiting for elective surgery

In the long run, delaying your surgery could have serious effects. Maybe you won't be able to work, or maybe your condition, discomfort, or concern about the situation may worsen - or all three.

Here are four steps you can take when you're in limbo:

Maintain open lines of contact with your healthcare providers. This could include having crucial phone numbers for your doctor or nurse on hand, or entering into your patient portal and contacting your doctor or nurse. Inquire with your doctor about how frequently you should come in.

Changes in symptoms should be reported. Your condition was not life-threatening when you planned your surgery. However, things can change. Report symptom changes as soon as you see them, rather than waiting until an emergency occurs.

Get your medicines refilled. You don't want to be without drugs when you need them, especially if you'll want your doctor's approval for refills.

Make arrangements for more assistance. Perhaps a friend or family member can help you with grocery shopping, meal preparation, housework, or just getting through the day. Consider employing someone to help you briefly if you can afford it. Prices in the United States are around $25 per hour, with a weekly minimum of several hours.

Elective surgery


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