Pause in elective surgeries leaves some wondering when they’ll get treatment they need

Investigations

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Gov. Greg Abbott issued an executive order halting elective surgeries to help preserve hospital capacity. 

The order said that all hospitals in Bexar, Dallas, Harris and Travis counties have to “postpone all surgeries and procedures that are not immediately, medically necessary to correct a serious medical condition or to preserve the life of a patient who without immediate performance of the surgery or procedure would be at risk for serious adverse medical consequences or death, as determined by the patient’s physician.”

“How is it that people can go bar hopping all weekend long, but my breast biopsy for cancer is now cancelled until further notice,” said a KXAN viewer. “Now hundreds of people’s health will be effected, cancers will go untreated, diagnoses will be delayed because of stopping surgery. This is not okay.”

Dr. Diana Fite, President of the Texas Medical Association, said procedures to diagnose possible cancer, colonoscopy or even knee surgery are considered elective surgery. However, under this new order they could still be done.

“It’s important to note that the governor did not reissue the same broad order he first put in place on March 22 and rescinded on April 21. This is critical because we cannot revisit a time when our patients got sicker because physicians had so few options to provide needed care,” explained Dr. Fite.

Governor Abbott’s latest order will allow elective surgeries at outpatient surgery centers and hospitals that still have the capacity. 

“Some patients are not candidates. Perhaps they have significant other medical problems and they are not candidates for using an ambulatory center, because it doesn’t have everyone there, just in case something goes badly wrong because the patient has chronic illness,” explained Dr. Fite.

Arlette Lisansky’s hip replacement surgery was postponed at least two months, and rescheduled just a few weeks ago.

“So even though I had a lot of pain, tremendous pain, I was not able to get any elective surgery,” said Lisansky. “When they say elective it makes it sound like people are going in and wanting Botox … but with me I was told that if I didn’t get the surgery I would end up in a wheelchair for the rest of my life.”

Lisansky said her recovery has been slow, but she’s glad she got the surgery before this latest order. 

“I do believe that my being in intensive care and being in very bad condition losing as much blood as I did, my blood pressure plummeting to some crazy number, was really because I couldn’t get the surgery when I should have had the surgery,” said Lisansky.

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