DOH Updated Guidance on COVID-19 Testing Prior to Non-Essential Elective Surgeries

May 17, 2021

On May 12, DOH issued updated guidance on COVID-19 testing prior to non-essential elective surgeries and non-urgent procedures in hospitals, ambulatory surgery centers, office-based surgery practices, and diagnostic and treatment centers. The guidance states that such testing is not required for patients who are fully vaccinated or who have recovered from laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 during the previous three months, and there is no need to test asymptomatic, recently recovered patients to prove they are now negative. Pre-elective procedure testing five days prior to elective surgeries and procedures using a polymerase chain reaction or antigen test for the detection of SARS-CoV-2 is required for: Patients who are not fully vaccinated; unvaccinated patients; and patients for whom COVID-19 screening has identified a potential risk/need for testing before procedures.

Hospitals and other facilities must implement a pre-elective procedure testing policy that includes risk assessment, including exposure, travel, and COVID-19 symptoms. DOH strongly encourages pre-elective procedure testing for all asymptomatic patients scheduled for an elective surgery/procedure irrespective of vaccination or recovery status in regions with a positivity rate of 2% or greater, according to the New York Forward seven-day average. The guidance states the DOH Commissioner may require pre-procedure COVID-19 testing for all asymptomatic patients irrespective of vaccination or COVID-19 recovery if public health metrics warrant. Members should review the guidance for other important details.