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Why do I need a COVID-19 test before surgery?

  • Category: Health & Wellness, Community
  • Posted On:
  • Written By: Deb Sutton, Sweetwater Memorial Public Information Officer
Why do I need a COVID-19 test before surgery?

It’s required at MHSC for surgeries and some procedures

If you’re scheduled for surgery or even a minor procedure, a SARS-CoV-2 test likely is required.

Why? The short answer is to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 and to maintain the health and safety of our patients, providers and staff, said Deb Sutton, Memorial Hospital of Sweetwater County spokeswoman. Sweetwater Memorial is making every effort to stop the spread.

Now, for the long answer.

Every procedure is different and every patient is different, said Surgical Services Director Alisha Mackie.

“SARS-CoV-2 is the new strain of coronavirus that is responsible for the COVID-19 disease” she explained. “It can complicate even the most minor of procedures.”

To make sure that doesn’t happen, tests are required for all surgeries at Sweetwater Memorial, including but not limited to, general surgery; orthopedics; urology; gynecology; ear, nose and throat; podiatry; pediatric dentistry; and plastic surgery. Some procedures and pre-operative tests also require the test.

When scheduling your surgery, understand there is a timeline to follow. Test results must be available to your physician before your surgery. Speak with your provider or surgical team to make plans for your COVID-19 test.

If you test positive, you may be asked to reschedule your surgery, procedure or pre-operative test.

Dr. Augusto Jamias, a general surgeon and chairman of the MHSC Surgical Department, said patients are at high risk for complications after medical procedures.

Viruses, particularly those as virulent as the new coronavirus strain, also can complicate recovery, he said. Older or at-risk patients may be asked to postpone a procedure until they are well or there is less risk from COVID-19 in the community,

However, a positive COVID-19 test does not automatically mean you can’t schedule a procedure at Sweetwater Memorial. There are multiple exceptions your physician can discuss with you, Jamias said.

Giving birth

For all scheduled Cesarean births and inductions of labor (both elective and medically indicated), the obstetrics staff asks the expectant mom to obtain a COVID swab 24 hours prior to their C-section or induction date.

“This option also is offered to their partners,” said Women’s Health Director Megan Jacobsen. “We work closely with expectant mothers to make sure everything is in order before their procedure to ensure a safe and positive experience for the expectant mother, her partner and her baby.”

“We will find the best plan of care that fits their family,” Jacobsen said. “We won’t delay medically indicated deliveries or natural deliveries, but we will work with the moms on elective deliveries to ensure we are doing what is safest for you and your baby.

A test before a test

A COVID-19 test also is required in other MHSC departments before a procedure, test or treatment can be scheduled.

Cardiopulmonary Department: COVID-19 tests are required for pulmonary function and Sleep Lab titration tests because they are considered aerosol-generating procedures, or AGPs, said Crystal Hamblin, Cardiopulmonary Services Director.

An APG is a procedure that is more likely to generate higher concentrations of infections respiratory aerosols than coughing, sneezing, talking or breathing. They may put healthcare works at an increased risk for exposure and infection.

The department also requires a COVID-19 test prior to cardiac stress tests because the patient and healthcare worker are in close proximity when the test is being administered, Hamblin said.

Imaging: A COVID-19 test is required for a PET Scan, said Medical Imaging Director Tracie Soller. It is necessary because of the prolonged nature of the PET Scan and the small trailer currently used for the scans.

“Even though a COVID-19 test isn’t required for an MRI or CT, the staff takes precautions,” Soller said. “When visiting with and testing a patient, they wear the appropriate PPE for the exam, a surgical mask at the minimum.”

Plan ahead

To make sure you have the necessary pre-operative tests required before your surgery or procedure, plan ahead.

An order from your provider is required for most pre-operative tests. Talk to your physician or healthcare provider about the necessary tests required prior to your surgery or procedure.

At the COVID-19 drive-thru swabbing station at the front of the hospital, you also will be asked to fill out and sign an Outpatient Registration form.

To expedite the process, you can go to the COVID-19 update page at, print off the Outpatient Registration Form, fill it out and bring it and the provider’s order with you to the swabbing station. If you will need a copy of the results, print and complete the Authorization for Disclosure of Health Information, which also is available at