NEW RESTRICTIONS: Governor bans non-urgent medical, dental procedures

New restrictions announced by the governor this afternoon:

Gov. Inslee announced new restrictions today on non-urgent medical and dental procedures so the state can make sure Washington health care workers have enough protective equipment to wear as they work the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic. Today’s order applies to any non-urgent procedure that requires medical professionals to wear personal protective equipment.

This impacts all hospitals, ambulatory surgery centers, and dental, orthodontic and endodontic offices in Washington. The governor’s proclamation makes clear that this restriction does not apply to treatment for patients with emergency and urgent needs.

There are exceptions. For example, doctors can perform an elective surgery if delaying the surgery would cause harm to the patient within the next three months.

“We know the health care personal protective equipment supply chain in Washington has been severely disrupted by the significant increased use of such equipment worldwide,” Inslee said. “We will do all we can to protect the women and men who protect us.”

Banned procedures include (but are not limited to):

most joint replacements
most cataract and lens surgeries
non-urgent cardiac procedures
cosmetic procedures
some endoscopy
some interventional radiology services

This order does not apply to patients with heart attacks, strokes or motor vehicle accidents. Hospitals and ambulatory surgery centers may perform surgery as long as a delay or cancellation would worsen the patient’s condition. For example, the prohibition would not apply to a patient who needs a serious cancerous tumor removed, or a patient who needs their dentist to relieve pain or manage an infection.

Inslee encourages ambulatory surgery centers to work with their local hospitals and assist with surge capacity needs.

“We’ve come together to make intense sacrifices over the past week or two,” Inslee said. “And I thank all of you for what you’re doing. Today’s crucial announcement is another way we can protect the health of our communities and families, and slow the spread of this virus so our health care systems have a fighting chance to catch up and continue keeping us healthy.”

For more detailed information, we encourage practitioners to reach out to their specific associations, boards or commissions.

(Added) Commenter Rar noted that the news release above did not set an end date. Here’s the actual proclamation (PDF), which says, until May 18th.

14 Replies to "NEW RESTRICTIONS: Governor bans non-urgent medical, dental procedures"

  • Rar March 19, 2020 (5:10 pm)

    Is there an end date to this order? I’m sorry if I overlooked it in the article some how…

  • onion March 19, 2020 (6:17 pm)

    I was supposed to have a dental appointment on Monday, and my wife today. I chickened out at the last minute, and my wife cancelled as well. We rescheduled for May 8. Guess we’ll be rescheduling once again. I feel really bad for our terrific hygienist, who works two jobs just to afford health insurance and care for her grandson.

  • ForSure March 19, 2020 (6:56 pm)

    happy to refer all my emergency dental patients to the hospital.  This is a total burn.  

    • Ice March 19, 2020 (7:29 pm)

      Do emergency dental procedures count as non-urgent?

      • WSB March 19, 2020 (7:38 pm)

        The announcement is clear that emergency is OK, as are procedures that might not be urgent but have to be done or else the patient’s health would be at risk within three months.

  • Lena March 19, 2020 (8:00 pm)

    While most veterinary clinics are already doing this, I’m surprised we were not included in the order.

    • AnLVT March 23, 2020 (12:58 pm)

      Unfortunately, not all are.  My vet hospital continues to see annual exam and vaccine appointments, spays and neuters, etc. with radical changes to protocol, but with masks and gloves still being used.  (Though many masks being used are cloth).

  • Jeremy March 19, 2020 (8:04 pm)

    So is donating blood OK?

  • Little Bear of Shorewood March 19, 2020 (8:28 pm)

    My dentist (downtown) emailed yesterday that all future appointments are automatically cancelled. Mine was for May 15.

  • Stephanie March 19, 2020 (10:08 pm)

    Would routine blood draws count as non urgent medical procedures? Are blood draws safe to do right now?

    • Ice March 20, 2020 (12:03 am)

      I’d just call the ordering doctor’s office and ask.

  • Patti March 22, 2020 (6:29 pm)

    Are non urgent ultra sounds banned?

    • WSB March 22, 2020 (6:58 pm)

      Definitely talk to your health-care provider.

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