Abbott issues executive order postponing "not immediately necessary" medical procedures

To help hospital capacity and critical resources, Gov. Greg Abbott issued an executive order postponing surgeries and procedures that are “not immediately necessary.” 

The governor said his order is to help limit the spread of COVID-19 and to help patient care capacity that is essential during this time. 

Non-emergency procedures are considered on a case by case basis. Physicians and doctors will use a grading scale, said Dr. Fleeger, president of the Texas Medical Association. 

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He said the scale factors in severity and symptoms, meaning if a patient is in pain, has an underlying medical condition or is a trauma patient, there still can be surgeries.

Dr. Fleeger said he agrees with the governor on postponing procedures. 

“The most important thing is that if we do our job right, and we have our social distancing, this war we are in will look like nothing has happened,” said Dr. Fleeger. “We certainly don’t want our doctors, nurses and other personnel to not have the equipment they need to help keep our families safe.” 

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Dr. Fleeger added that with the number of cases of COVID-19 rising, we may see a spike in need for hospital essentials. 

“We are looking at a major surge which would be difficult to deal with in a normal circumstance,” he said. 

However, Dr. Fleeger said with the order and the non-necessary procedures not taking place, there will be extra doctors and nurses that will be able to step up and help.

Last week, Gov. Greg Abbott issued a public health disaster, the first in Texas since 1901. The executive orders, which take effect at midnight Friday, March 20 and go through midnight on Friday, April 3, will bring the state in line with CDC guidelines to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

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The public health disaster orders schools to be closed statewide until at least April 3. The disaster also orders a ban on dine-in eating and gathering in groups of more than 10 as the state ramps up efforts to battle the coronavirus. Abbott's order also will shut down gyms and bars. It also bans visits to nursing and retirement homes unless there is a critical need.


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