Don’t avoid necessary surgery because of Covid, warns general surgeon Joshua Ellenhorn, M.D.

September 25 20:48 2020

Dr Ellenhorn, an expert general surgeon and surgical oncologist in practice for over 25 years, emphasized that surgery is safe in this era of Covid. As we are learning more about the COVID, it is becoming clear that patients can safely visit their doctors. Surgery no longer needs to be postponed. Dr. Ellenhorn, Professor of Surgery at Cedars Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, California explains, “Early in the Covid outbreak there was considerable worry on the part of hospitals that they needed to stay empty to accommodate a very large anticipated influx of patients with severe Covid related illness. This resulted in the reluctance of hospitals to allow for elective surgical procedures for fear that hospital beds would be needed for patients during the pandemic.” For the most part, this worrisome scenario never happened in the State of California. In the beginning of the summer, most hospitals opened their operating rooms to elective surgical procedures.

Dr. Ellenhorn also recognizes that patients continue to be worried about catching Covid while in the hospital. Dr. Ellenhorn recalls a patient who postponed elective hernia surgery because of Covid for so long that his hernia became extremely painful and needed to be operated on as an absolute emergency. The concerns about catching COVID19 from the hospital environment were misunderstood. Fortunately, hospitals have been very aggressive about protecting patients and healthcare providers from COVID19. Dr. Ellenhorn and his colleagues, at the Surgery Group of Los Angeles, have continued to operate on patients throughout the Covid epidemic. Dr Ellenhorn recalls only 1 patient who started to have symptoms from Covid while in the hospital after surgery. On closer questioning, it was discovered that the patient’s family members became ill at about the same time as the postoperative patient. It became clear that the patient entered the hospital and underwent the surgery before the symptoms of Covid set in. Because of the use of universal antiseptic precautions, used in the care of every patient, Covid was not passed on to any doctors, nurses or other patients. The patient recovered from their illness and was discharged from the hospital healthy. The universal antiseptic precautions practiced by all hospital personnel include wearing masks and gloves and washing one’s hands before and after any patient contact, whether or not they are known to be Covid infected.

The Surgery Group of Los Angeles understands that these are very uncertain times and our patients and their families are worried about the ongoing pandemic. With an emphasis on teamwork, support, and science based clinical practice, the Surgery Group of Los Angeles meets their patients’ needs head on, and are ready to help improve the lives of their patients and their families.

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