AmSurg ASC diagnoses patient with rectal cancer after colonoscopy — A delay could have been fatal

Like COVID-19, colon cancer is an invisible disease that can be fatal; it is the second-leading cause of cancer death in the U.S. among men and women combined, according to AmSurg, a Nashville, Tenn.-based ASC management company.

With multiple states — including Florida — calling for the suspension of "nonessential" procedures during the coronavirus pandemic, surgery centers must decide when postponing a case could endanger a patient.

AmSurg's Space Coast Endoscopy Center in Rockledge, Fla., is one center where tough calls are being made.

One of the ASC's physicians recently performed a colonoscopy on a 37-year-old patient, determining that her "somewhat benign symptoms" made the procedure necessary. After the colonoscopy, the patient was diagnosed with rectal cancer.

"If our center were not open to proceed with her procedure, it may have been months before she had her colonoscopy, drastically changing her life story," AmSurg said in a March 30 news release.

While staying open to treat patients with similar urgent needs, Space Coast Endoscopy Center is taking steps to protect patients from COVID-19. Those measures include screening staff and patients, asking patient caregivers to wait outside, having staff wear N95 masks, enforcing social distancing within the facility, and wiping down the facility at least twice a day.

The ASC is also waiving upfront payments for procedures, unless a patient wants to pay.

"Yes, procedure numbers are approximately a quarter of our usual caseload, yet we continue to play a vital role in our community as we abide by local/state health department guidelines while readying ourselves to assist however we can," AmSurg said. "We remain connected with the local police and fire marshal, assuring them of our support as they are truly on the frontlines of this pandemic."

More articles on surgery centers:
11 centers responding to the COVID-19 pandemic l March 20
When will the coronavirus peak? It's complicated
Physicians may no longer need a new license to cross state lines 


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