NICE promotes flexible arrangements in elective and planned procedures during pandemic

NEW NICE guidance regarding elective treatment and diagnostic procedures promotes a balanced approach to risks associated with COVID-19 to avoid potential harm that could arise from delays.

The latest in a series of COVID-19 rapid guidelines calls for assessment of individual circumstances and the type of procedure, while advocating shared decision-making, balancing the risks and benefits.

The guideline states that people having planned care involving any form of anaesthesia or sedation should follow comprehensive social-distancing and hand-hygiene measures for 14 days before admission.

Such patients should also be advised to have a test for SARS CoV 2 within three days before admission and self-isolate from the day of the test until the day of admission. Patients undergoing other planned procedures, including diagnostic tests and imaging, should be advised to follow comprehensive social distancing and hand hygiene measures for 14 days before having planned care.

The guideline also states that people should be informed that their planned care is likely to be postponed if they test positive for SARS-CoV-2, have symptoms of COVID-19, are not clinically well enough or need to self-isolate after contact with someone with COVID-19 (for example, as identified by the NHS Test and Trace system).

People having inpatient surgery who stay in hospital for more than five days should be tested for SARS-Cov-2 between five and seven days after admission, in line with current NHS England and Improvement advice. The guideline also recommends that all people going from hospital to other care settings are tested before they are discharged.

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