Elective surgery patients must cocoon for 7-14 days before procedure

New rules designed to minimise infection risks from Covid-19 in hospitals set out

Occupancy levels should be kept at under 75 per cent ‘if whole hospital capacity facilitates’, according to elective surgery pathway for the pandemic.  Photograph:  Getty Images

Occupancy levels should be kept at under 75 per cent ‘if whole hospital capacity facilitates’, according to elective surgery pathway for the pandemic. Photograph: Getty Images

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Patients undergoing elective surgery will have to cocoon for seven to 14 days before their procedure, under new rules designed to minimise infection risks from Covid-19 in hospitals.

They will also have to be tested for the disease within 48 hours of their appointment, which will not go ahead unless the result is negative.

New guidance says patients should make their own way to the hospital, wait in their cars until just before they are called and have a family member wait in the car until they are ready for discharge.

Occupancy levels should be maintained at under 75 per cent “if whole hospital capacity facilitates”, according to elective surgery pathway for the Covid-19 pandemic. The size of surgical teams should be kept to a minimum and no medical students should be present for procedures.

Expected surge

Elective work in hospitals was cancelled from March to create space for the expected surge of coronavirus patients, but now that the peak has passed, efforts are being made to ramp up the care of non-Covid-19 patients in public hospitals as well as private hospitals that have been taken over by the State for the crisis.

Before the procedure, all engagements between the patients and medical staff are to take place on the phone or by other virtual means, according to the guidance on the management of day cases.

Patients are being told they need “means” to get to the hospital and that a designated person should stay with them for 12-24 hours after any procedure involving sedation or anaesthetic.

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