What Constitutes an Emergency Procedure?

What Constitutes an Emergency Procedure?

What is emergency care? What is an elective procedure? On March 16, Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb encouraged hospitals and surgical centers to cancel and/or postpone elective and non-urgent surgical procedures, but he advised that physicians should continue to perform critical procedures necessary to prevent short-term and/or long-term adverse effects to their patients’ overall health. When deciding what types of procedures constitute “emergency care,” consider the following:

  • Routine cleanings, cosmetic procedures and any treatment that can be reasonably postponed for three weeks or longer are considered elective.
  • Beyond the list above, as a provider, you are the leader of your health care team and are in the best possible position to evaluate what types of care can be considered urgent or emergencies.
  • If you plan to treatment emergencies over the next few weeks, draft a list of procedures you consider to be “urgent” and direct your staff to reschedule all routine exams, cosmetic treatments, elective procedures, and non-emergency services where possible.
  • Record a new voicemail message to inform your patients about how your practice is dealing with this public health crisis, and encourage them to leave a message or seek additional treatment if they have a medical emergency.
  • Send emails and/or texts, and update your website and social media channels to list the types of procedures you consider an emergency and will be willing to treat in the next few weeks or months.
  • Check your voicemail regularly to ensure that any patient emergency is dealt with quickly and effectively.


The ADA has compiled guidelines for emergency vs. non-emergency conditions. Click here to view the guidelines.

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