With the coronavirus affecting the work of healthcare professionals worldwide, the International Federation for the Surgery of Obesity and Metabolic Disorders (IFSO) has issued a paper in Obesity Surgery, containing recommendations regarding COVID-19. Their aim is to keep patients and healthcare professionals as safe as possible during these unprecedented times.
Recommendation: All bariatric surgery should be postponed until after the coronavirus
IFSO recommends postponing all metabolic and bariatric procedures during this pandemic, in order to minimize health risks and to reserve healthcare resources for treatment of coronavirus patients. All routine surgeries should be rescheduled until after the pandemic is over. Only emergency surgeries are recommended, in case of severe complications of bariatric surgery. However, since similar complaints can occur in both COVID-19 patients and patients with postoperative complications (e.g. postoperative leak or infections), multidisciplinary teams should work together for diagnosis and treatment.
Coronavirus screening is recommended for all patients coming into hospitals
All patients coming into hospitals or healthcare organizations should be screened for COVID-19 and diagnosed on the basis of the WHO interim guidance. Furthermore, all patients should be asked about recent history of symptoms of themselves or close contacts, contact with coronavirus patients and recent travel to high-risk areas. When COVID-19 is suspected or confirmed, emergency surgery can be offered after considering conservative treatment, if high levels of precautions are being carried out.
Postoperative consults should be done digitally until after the coronavirus
Postoperative visits following up bariatric surgery are not recommended. Telemedicine, online or phone follow-ups can be used as alternatives, in order to continue postoperative patient care. Contact between healthcare professionals through academic activities or conferences should be cancelled, postponed or changed to online alternatives as well.
Recommendation on good hygiene to protect against the coronavirus
IFSO stresses the importance of good hygiene for everyone, in order to protect against the virus and infections. The following advices are given:
- Covering your coughs and sneezes with your elbow or a tissue
- Disposing of tissues properly
- Washing your hands often with soap and water, including before and after eating and after going to the toilet
- Using alcohol-based hand sanitisers
- Cleaning and disinfecting surfaces
- If you are sick, avoiding contact with others and staying more than 1.5 m away from people
- Cleaning and sanitising frequently used objects such as mobiles, keys and wallets
Surgical masks in the community are helpful in preventing people who have coronavirus disease from spreading it to others. Masks are not needed for people not suffering from the virus.