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Postponement of Elective and Non-Urgent Surgeries and Procedures

Update for Saturday, March 14

Postponement of Elective and Non-Urgent Surgeries and Procedures

UW Medicine is postponing elective and non-urgent surgeries and procedures through March 31.  The move covers all UW Medicine healthcare facilities and will take effect Monday, March 16, for Harborview Medical Center, University of Washington Medical Center Montlake and Northwest campuses; and at Valley Medical Center on Wednesday, March 18.  Patients who have elective surgeries scheduled are being notified by UW Medicine. They will be rescheduled as the COVID-19 pandemic is controlled. That will enable UW Medicine providers and facilities to regain capacity and respond again to elective surgery needs.

Questions & Answers

Why is UW Medicine postponing elective and non-urgent surgeries and procedures?

UW Medicine is facing a rapidly increasing need to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. We are seeing a significant increase in the number of COVID-19 patients at our hospitals, which is placing increasing pressure on our staff and demand on our supplies of personal protective equipment such as gowns, masks, and/or face shields. With new guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, specifically to Seattle-King, Pierce and Snohomish counties, UW leadership decided on the postponement.

What UW Medicine facilities are affected?

The postponement covers all UW healthcare hospitals.  All outpatient and ambulatory procedure centers will be postponing procedures that are deemed to be elective in nature until March 31.

What causes a surgery or procedure to be postponed?  

The decision is up to each patient’s doctor, based on two main factors. The first factor is that a surgery or procedure is elective and non-urgent. This means it can be rescheduled without significantly impacting the patient’s health outcome. The second is whether the surgery or procedure requires the use of personal protective equipment such as gowns, masks, and/or face shields. If a procedure involves both factors, it is eligible to be postponed.

What types of surgeries or procedures will continue to be performed as scheduled?

Emergent and urgent surgeries or procedures will continue to be performed. These are surgeries that should be done right away or within a four-week time period. Otherwise, delaying any further may negatively affect the patient’s health outcome or harm the patient.

How will our patients find out if their surgeries or procedures are being performed?

All patients whose surgeries are being postponed are being notified. Any patient with questions should call his or her doctor.

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