The coronavirus pandemic sent an influx of patients to hospitals across the United States, revealing a host of vulnerabilities within the United States healthcare system. As hospitals across the nation struggled to find and provide resources like PPE, hospital beds, ventilators, and certain medications, many U.S. governors attempted to combat this issue by placing temporary bans on elective surgeries.
While these bans freed up vital resources that healthcare workers needed to care for patients suffering from COVID-19, it also led to a massive pileup of patients who still needed these elective procedures.
This backlog is detrimental for patients, healthcare workers, and hospitals, and the lack of elective surgeries has created gaps within the healthcare industry and has harmed the United States economy.
Here are a few of the major consequences that have stemmed from shutting down elective surgeries:
1. Poor health outcomes and mortality rates
Although the term “elective” might make it seem like these procedures were either unnecessary or unimportant, this could not be further from the truth. In fact, many lifesaving surgeries fall under this category, including kidney donations, mastectomies for those suffering from breast cancer, kidney stone removals, and ventral hernia repair.
This means that while tens of thousands of people in the United States were dying from coronavirus during the beginning of the year, there were also many people who were dying due to a lack of elective surgeries.
According to “The Consequences of Delaying Elective Surgery: Surgical Perspective” published in Annals of Surgery, there are many “indirect effects” that stem from deferred care, and “delays in treatment result in worse outcomes and higher mortality for patients across a broad spectrum of diseases” . When patients are forced to wait before receiving elective surgery, “the burden of disease continues to accumulate,” and their conditions may progress. This can lead to higher mortality rates and other undesirable health outcomes.
An individual who has to wait several months before receiving a mastectomy due to their breast cancer may experience the spread of their cancer among other negative consequences, for example.
The lack of elective surgeries and the backlog this has created is directly affecting the well-being of patients who have been forced to wait to receive the surgical procedures they need to survive or increase their quality of life.
2. Negative economic outcomes
In addition to influencing the comfort, health, and lifespan of patients who need elective surgeries, delaying these elective surgeries negatively impacts the national economy. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the United States has experienced a significant drop in its Gross Domestic Product (GDP). In the article “Covid-19 Created an Elective Surgery Backlog. How Can Hospitals Get Back on Track?” published in Harvard Law Review, it is noted that “half of the annualized 4.8 U.S. GDP decline in the first quarter of 2020 is attributed to health care services, especially delayed elective procedures” .
While saving human lives should be prioritized and valued over money, these negative economic outcomes are still important because they have a direct effect on patient care.
In the attempt to restimulate the economy by reducing the backlog created by elective surgery bans, there is the potential that states will rush through this process, decreasing hospital throughput and establishing inequitable healthcare practices in the process. Rather than developing equitable and safe strategies for restarting elective surgeries, critical steps may be skipped in order to restart these surgeries quickly and minimize the damage to the economy.
Shutting down elective surgeries has created a problem that is not only negatively influencing the U.S. economy but also hospital safety and patient care
3. Decreased revenue for hospitals and healthcare facilities
Elective surgery bans have not only taken a toll on the United States economy, but they have also led to a sharp decrease in revenue for hospitals and healthcare facilities. A notable amount of revenue that hospitals receive comes from elective procedures, which tend to carry a high price tag.
CNBC reports that “U.S. hospitals are losing more than a billion dollars per day by complying with the guidance from policymakers and the leading medical associations to preserve resources for Covid-19 patients” .
Considering the fact that the coronavirus pandemic exposed the incredible lack of resources for hospitals across the globe even when they had access to this revenue, which lead to these elective surgery shutdowns in the first place, this significant decrease in funds will have a major impact on hospitals and healthcare facilities moving forward.
During a time when hospitals have an exceptional need for funding for healthcare staff, ICU beds, PPE, and other health and safety resources, this revenue deficit will be detrimental.
How SCONE™ can help
In the aftermath of several statewide elective surgery bans, many hospitals, healthcare workers, and patients are dealing with the negative consequences. While this situation may look grim, there are solutions, like the Self-Contained Negative Pressure Environment (SCONE™) that can help.
The SCONE™ is a device that uses negative pressure technology to create an active barrier to protect healthcare workers and eliminate the aerosols and droplets that spread COVID-19 in hospitals. Using the SCONE™, hospitals can counteract many of the negative impacts of elective surgery bans.
As hospitals rush to restart elective surgeries, the SCONE™ can be used to maximize throughput and prevent bottlenecking. This will help provide a safe environment and equitable care for patients and healthcare workers alike.
The SCONE™ also reduces the need for PPE, allowing hospitals who will face budget cuts due to a lack of revenue from elective procedures the opportunity to keep their physicians, nurses, and other healthcare workers safe without breaking the bank or scrounging to find adequate PPE.
The SCONE™ will also minimize delays and help healthcare professionals work through the backlog of patients waiting on procedures by allowing them to quickly and safely provide patient care. With a clearance rate of under 5 minutes, The SCONE™ is an innovative solution that can help protect healthcare workers so they can continue to help protect their patients.
Although hospitals were negatively impacted by regulations shutting down elective surgeries, The SCONE™ can help combat many of these less than desirable effects.
SCONE™ has been authorized by the FDA for Emergency Use. Click the button to connect with us and learn how the SCONE™ can help your facility.