On Friday, May 15, 2020, Gov. Murphy issued Executive Order 145, allowing physicians and dentists to resume elective surgeries and invasive procedures as of Tuesday, May 26. This is long-awaited news by both patients and doctors. However, before practices start scheduling and performing elective procedures and surgeries, they should ensure that the practice complies with the directives of the New Jersey Department of Health or the Division of Consumer Affairs, depending on where the procedure will be performed. This blog post addresses in-office procedures. I have addressed the requirements for Ambulatory Surgery Centers in a separate blog post, “Resumption of Ambulatory Surgery Centers Elective Surgery and Invasive Procedures in New Jersey.”
On Tuesday, May 19, effective Monday, May 18, the New Jersey Department of Law and Public Safety, Division of Consumer Affairs (“DCA”), issued an Administrative Order and Notice of Rule Adoption Pursuant to Executive Order No. 145 (Murphy) (May 15, 2020), setting forth the limitations and precautions that physicians and dentists must employ to resume performing procedures at their offices.
A summary of the Order follows below. First, however, it is important to recognize that while the Order deals with resuming elective surgeries and invasive procedures, it makes clear that since the suspension of elective surgeries and invasive procedures, via Executive Order 109, health care professionals are authorized to provide “in-person adult and pediatric medically necessary or therapeutic services in an office.” In-person medically necessary or therapeutic services are defined as services that “in the judgment of the health care professional, are needed to treat or restore or improve a patient’s health, and which cannot be reasonably delayed without an adverse medical outcome.” Thus, it appears that procedures that are not medically necessary, and/or procedures that can be delayed without an adverse outcome, should not be scheduled during this time, but should be delayed until further order of either the governor or DCA. DCA has indicated that they will be publishing FAQs, and hopefully this point will be clarified. We will update you as soon as further guidance is released.
Now, for the summary of the Order. For in-office treatment and procedures, medical and dental offices must adopt and comply with the following policies:
Additional requirements apply for Elective and Invasive Procedures, and dentists, oral surgeons, pulmonologists, otolaryngologists, and eye care professionals who are offering in-office medically necessary or therapeutic services that involve direct contact with the patient’s face, eyes, or mouth, or present a high risk of aerosolization. They must also employ the following policies and procedures:
Making sure your practice is compliant in every way is essential. We realize that your focus is on the delivery of medical and dental care. Ensuring that your practice is compliant from a legal point of view is like preventative medicine; it is more effective and usually a lot cheaper! If you have any questions concerning this post, please contact Sandra Jarva Weiss, Chair of our Health Care & Life Sciences Practice Group, at email@example.com. For other topics related to COVID-19, visit our Coronavirus Thought Leadership Connection.
The information contained in this post may not reflect the most current developments, as the subject matter is extremely fluid and constantly changing. Please continue to monitor this site for ongoing developments. Readers are also cautioned against taking any action based on information contained herein without first seeking advice from professional legal counsel.