IDPH Updated Guidance on Pre-Operative COVID-19 Testing

April 19, 2022


The Illinois Dept. of Public Health (IDPH) issued updated elective surgery guidance last night that loosens long-standing requirements for pre-operative COVID-19 testing. A key change eliminates the requirement for mandatory pre-operative COVID-19 testing, with a negative test result within 72 hours, for patients who are not fully vaccinated. The new guidance can be accessed here.

The updated guidance makes several changes that provide hospitals and ambulatory surgical treatment centers (ASTCs) with more flexibility regarding processes and protocols surrounding elective surgeries and procedures.

Prior guidance required pre-procedure testing for all patients not fully vaccinated and recommended universal pre-procedure testing for all patients, regardless of vaccination status, requiring that any testing be completed within 72 hours of a scheduled procedure.

The new guidance states “pre-procedural testing is recommended, but not required, for patients not up to date with their COVID-19 vaccination.” The new guidance directs hospitals to follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance for pre-procedural testing of all patients, noting that “performance of pre-procedure or pre-admission viral testing is at the discretion of the facility.”

Previous guidance stating “a universal screening and testing program to identify patients infected with COVID-19 prior to performing non-emergent procedures is essential,” has been eliminated from the new IDPH guidance.

Other highlights of the new guidance include:

  • Guidance for infection control in waiting areas is updated from the previous “set up waiting rooms to allow patients to be at least 6 feet apart.” The guidance now states “hospitals and ASTCs should evaluate waiting areas and determine if designated areas, partitions or signage are necessary.”
  • Previous language directing hospitals to establish COVID-19 care zones for screening, temperature checks and pre-procedure waiting areas has been replaced with language directing hospitals to “…follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s infection prevention and control recommendations.”
  • Slightly alters direction around surgical review committees, eliminating previous language stating “each facility should convene a surgical review committee…” It newly states “in the event of a sudden increase of COVID-19 cases to the level that it starts impacting hospital operations, each facility should convene a surgical review committee…”

With input and guidance from IHA’s Medical Executive Forum Steering Committee, IHA has been advocating with IDPH for relief from IDPH’s previous pre-operative testing guidance which was implemented when vaccination rates were lower and the prevalence of the virus was higher. Rising vaccination levels and declining COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations provided the basis for reasonable relaxation of some of these restrictions that have been in place since April of 2021.

IHA continues to advocate with our government partners for relief from the state’s weekly COVID-19 testing requirement of unvaccinated healthcare workers.

Contact us with any questions.