Stringent protocols are in place for elective and other surgeries . Picture for illustrative purpose Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: Healthcare facilities in Dubai – hospitals, clinics and day care centres - have welcomed the restoration of most services in line with the UAE government’s decision for the gradual resumption of economic activities from May 27.

Sharing the new protocols in place, they told Gulf News that they are required to maintain the highest standards of hygiene and will be subject to inspections with stringent action being taken for non-compliance.

Elective Surgeries

Dr Jamil Ahmed, managing director, Prime Healthcare Group, said: “The resumption of healthcare services is not only an economic booster but a great relief to the community. It will help revive the health care sector and also help us stem the tide of patients in need of surgeries. Not all surgeries are emergencies, but elective surgeries when done in the nick of time have a preventive purpose to avert any condition from turning into an emergency.”

Dr Jamil Ahmed

Michael Davis, CEO of NMC Healthcare, said: “Opening up surgery will be welcomed by anxious patients who waited weeks for procedures that were important. Hernia repair, cancer operations, knee replacements, IVF treatment and even a staged cosmetic surgery are among the wide range of elective surgeries that come with varying degrees of complexity and urgency.

Michael Davis

“From a patient’s perspective, it’s super frustrating, knowing that their surgery is absolutely needed and because of where we are in the world right now with the coronavirus, everything is at a halt.”

Earlier, elective surgeries were permitted only under local and regional anaesthesia. Now, surgeries under general anaesthesia will be resumed for all medical specialities, provided the operation time does not exceed two-and-a-half hours.

However, in case of an emergency, the procedure can be performed regardless of the time duration as per the decision of the physician.

The cessation of elective surgeries that generate aerosol will still hold. They are limited only to emergencies and urgent cases.

COVID-19 test

Testing services for COVID-19 are limited to the hospitals and clinical laboratories permitted by the authorities.

For any patient to undergo surgery, it is mandatory to undergo a pre-operative COVID-19 rt-PCR test, at least 72 hours before the procedure.

COVID-19 test Image Credit: Agency

In case of hospital staff displaying any symptoms of infection, it is mandated that all professional health care workers undergo a COVID-19 test.

ENT and dental services

These services have been resumed with the caveat to avoid aerosol generating procedures, such as air water syringe and ultrasonic scalers, whenever possible. All health professionals who are in direct contact with patients are mandated to wear the appropriate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) including N95 masks; and if is not available, a combination of surgical mask and full-face shield.

However, dental and ENT services for confirmed or suspected COVID-19 cases have to be postponed until recovery. If it’s an emergency, then such a procedure must be carried out in a negative pressure room in a hospital.

High-risk patients

Healthcare workers have been advised to maintain extreme caution when dealing with patients who are considered high risk of contracting COVID-19

These include patients who are above the age of 60 years, regardless of their medical condition.

Caution has to be exercised in dealing with patients, regardless of their age if they suffer from chronic respiratory, heart, kidney or liver disease, besides diabetics, pregnant women and those who are immunocompromised.

Appointment system

They said all health care facilities have been asked to adhere to a strict appointment system to avoid overcrowding of patients in the waiting area. A distance of two metres must be maintained between patients in waiting rooms. Visitors must undergo thermal temperature checks before entering the facility and must mandatorily wear face masks at all times.

All facilities must undergo mandatory sterilisation and disinfection processes. This includes the daily cleaning of health facility amenities and regular sterilisation with special focus on patient reception areas, waiting area, consultation rooms, operation rooms and elevators. In addition, health care facilities must maintain records of the disinfection process and must contract a professional company, approved by Dubai Municipality, to conduct regular sterilisation as per schedules.

Day surgery centres must have working hours that comply with the national sterilisation programme in the emirate.

All health facilities must ensure sufficient supply of PPE and sanitisers for all professional staff and employees.