The American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) published a special report to provide guidance to oncology practices on resuming cancer care during the COVID-19 pandemic.
While communities across the US are beginning to gradually lift pandemic-related restrictions, oncology practices are considering how to safely restore patient access to diagnostics, treatments, and other critical cancer care services.
“While the move to resume normal operations will be slow and steady, we hope this report gives oncology practices the guidance they need to determine when and how to return to a ‘new normal’ as the impact of the pandemic begins to ease,” stated Howard A “Skip” Burris III, MD, FACP, FASCO, president of ASCO, in a press release (May 19, 2020).
ASCO clinical experts reviewed a range of policies and practices planned by cancer facilities as well as guidance provided by government agencies and other medical societies. The resulting report offers guidance pertaining to:
- Best practices for triaging and screening patients before appointments to reduce infection risk
- Providing cancer care to patients who have tested positive or are being monitored for COVID-19
- Communicating with staff and patients about new protocols to protect patient health and safety
- Suggested policies and protocols for limiting infection spread by health care personnel through screening, testing, modified sick leave and work-from-home policies, and other measures
- Establishing physical distancing policies in clinical, administrative, and non-patient care areas of cancer facilities
Additionally, the special report addresses best practices for prioritizing, scheduling, and billing for telemedicine visits, as well as resources to inform when and how to reestablish cancer screenings and other critical cancer care – including medical oncology, radiation oncology, surgery, and ancillary services.
ASCO noted that this document is not a systematic review of evidence and should not supplement nor supersede applicable institutional, local, regional, or national plans or guidance.—Zachary Bessette