CHICAGO – The American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA) and the Anesthesia Patient Safety Foundation (APSF) today updated their advice to recommend against routine, universal COVID-19 testing before procedures and surgery in asymptomatic patients. The updated statement – revising previous guidance – supports a Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America (SHEA) commentary published in December 2022.
“Throughout the pandemic, our recommendations have been based on the scientific evidence available at the time, in conjunction with expert opinion, and updated as new information arises,” said ASA President Michael W. Champeau, M.D., FASA. “We now know that testing patients who do not have COVID-19 symptoms is unlikely to provide any benefit in preventing the virus in the health care environment where other infection prevention strategies are in place and, therefore, should not be considered a requirement.”
The updated ASA/APSF statement highlights the SHEA recommendations that:
- Provide a rationale for a shift from universal screening.
- Maintain that the use of asymptomatic screening is a unique yet resource-intensive tool that arguably has been overused. Prior to implementation of a large‐scale asymptomatic screening program, strengthening existing layers of protection (e.g., universal N95 respirator use when performing certain procedures on any patient, active vs. passive screening of health care personnel for signs of COVID‐19, reducing higher‐risk unit layouts to remove semi‐private areas, enhanced ventilation) is a more practical and reasonable approach.
The statement also notes that each health care facility should develop a risk/benefit analysis that includes local/facility infection prevention assessment (e.g., patient population, facility physical layout, and community incidence and transmission of COVID-19), and a robust system of controls and interventions to prevent virus transmission.
About American Society of Anesthesiologists
Founded in 1905, the American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA) is an educational, research and scientific society with more than 56,000 members organized to raise and maintain the standards of the medical practice of anesthesiology. ASA is committed to ensuring physician anesthesiologists evaluate and supervise the medical care of patients before, during and after surgery to provide the highest quality and safest care every patient deserves. For more information on the field of anesthesiology, visit the American Society of Anesthesiologists online at asahq.org. To learn more about the role physician anesthesiologists play in ensuring patient safety, visit asahq.org/MadeforThisMoment. Like ASA on Facebook, follow ASALifeline on Twitter.
About Anesthesia Patient Safety Foundation
Founded in 1985, the Anesthesia Patient Safety Foundation (APSF) promotes research of perioperative patient safety issues, supports the development of careers in patient safety, provides patient safety educational materials and communications to all anesthesia providers, and advocates for changes in clinical practices that improve patient safety. The APSF’s goal is that no one shall be harmed by anesthesia care.
The APSF is a related organization of ASA. APSF provides support for research and education in perioperative patient safety. Its past initiatives have resulted in significant contributions to the field of anesthesia patient safety. APSF has distributed over $12 million in funding for anesthesia patient safety research projects over its 30+ year history. For more information on APSF or to donate, please visit www.apsf.org.
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Director of Public Relations
American Society of Anesthesiologists
O: (773) 330-5273