Elective procedures in military hospitals/clinics (MTF) and Dental Treatment Facilities (DTF)

March 30, 2020

The Department of Defense (DOD) is directing all military hospitals/clinics and DTFs to immediately postpone all elective surgeries, invasive procedures, and dental procedures performed on beneficiaries with the exceptions outlined below. This includes aerosol-producing procedures, such as endoscopies, bronchoscopies, pulmonary function tests, and sleep Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) titrations.

This policy is effective March 31, 2020, and will remain in place for 60 days. This action aligns with actions across the nation to conserve vital healthcare resources during this public health emergency, to include bed space, personal protective equipment, supplies and medical personnel. This policy also protects patients, medical personnel and the community from further exposure and transmission of COVID-19.

The Commanders and Directors of these facilities may authorize surgeries or procedures that can be safely performed at their facility if required to maintain deployability and readiness of Active Duty Service Members (ADSM) including any Reserve component or National Guard member activated or issued a delayed-effective-date active duty order, as provided in 10 U.S.C. 1074(d). The Commanders and Directors may authorize an elective surgery or procedure if, after consulting with the relevant medical or dental specialist, he or she determines the risk to the patient of delaying the surgery or procedure outweighs safety concerns and logistics considerations (e.g. availability of beds, supplies, equipment and medical providers). Any beneficiary whose procedure is cancelled will be contacted through a means that confirms receipt and, to the greatest extent possible, by personal phone call.

As the Military Health System (MHS) prepares for a surge in demand for healthcare services related to COVID-19, it is essential that we take prompt action, informed by local conditions and your risk-benefit analysis. As you take action, we ask that you be mindful of the impact that cancelling or postponing surgery has on our beneficiaries, their families and our professional staff. While their surgeries may be elective, this is nonetheless a meaningful change to their life plans.