As of March 31, all military treatment facilities and dental treatment facilities will postpone elective surgeries and procedures for 60 days according to the Department of Defense (DoD). The policy applies to all beneficiaries: active-duty service members and their families, retirees, and Reserve and National Guard service members on active duty or a delayed effective date active-duty order.

U.S. Army photo by Patricia Deal

The policy is designed to meet three main objectives during the COVID-19 pandemic. First, to enhance the safety of military medical staff; second, to prolong supplies of personal protective equipment and ensure its availability for emergency use; and finally, to ensure military medical staff is available to provide care related to the pandemic.

Exceptions to the policy will be made for procedures a service member needs in order to be ready to deploy, as well as procedures a provider has determined cannot be delayed without causing harm. For these cases, the hospital or dental facility commander will determine if there is adequate capacity to safely authorize the procedure.

The DoD announcement follows presidential direction on the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic: apply critical medical resources, such as staff and equipment, where they are most needed; and reduce the risk of exposure to the virus to DoD medical staff and beneficiaries.