July 10, 2020
ASA Comments on Health Care System Resilience During COVID-19 Pandemic
On July 8, 2020, the American Society of Anesthesiologists submitted comments (PDF) to the US Department of Health and Human Services Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health (OASH) regarding how anesthesiologists can contribute to strengthening our health care system. The OASH Request for Information labelled resilience as “the capacity of health actors, institutions, and populations to prepare for and effectively respond to crises; maintain core functions when a crisis hits; and informed by lessons learned during the crisis, reorganize if conditions require it.” Throughout the pandemic, anesthesiologists have saved lives, coordinated and allocated local resources, converted anesthesia machines for use as ventilators in intensive care units and worked across specialties to ensure care coordination and patient care was a team endeavor.
ASA comments focused primarily on regulatory burden reduction and proactive federal government actions that will mitigate further spread of COVID-19. Similar to ASA comments on the Strategic National Stockpile, ASA endorsed the stockpiling and distribution of sampling systems such as nasal swabs and the storage of personal protective equipment (PPE) that can be objectively distributed from the SNS. ASA comments also encouraged regulatory reviews of unnecessary and wasteful use of PPE and other medical supplies.
ASA encouraged OASH to put policies and equipment in place to protect physician anesthesiologists and their colleagues from infection and give anesthesiologists ample opportunities and tools to save lives. ASA advocated for transparent instructions for processing and reusing medical equipment, especially when shortages have become more acute. ASA also stressed the need for federal policymakers to encourage drug manufacturers and suppliers to effectively address and solve the preexisting drug shortage crisis that routinely affect the care anesthesiologists provide in operating rooms and critical care units.
For a full list of ASA recommendations and comments, please review our letter (PDF).
For COVID-19 resources, please visit the ASA COVID-19 “In The Spotlight” page.
For further information, please contact the ASA Department of Quality and Regulatory Affairs at firstname.lastname@example.org.