As part of an effort to preserve the capacity of the state’s health care system, Gov. Phil Murphy signed an executive order two weeks ago that suspended all elective surgical procedures in New Jersey.

But what happens if something minor starts to suddenly get worse and you’re in a lot of pain?

According to Larry Downs, the chief executive officer of the Medical Society of New Jersey, the executive order puts a hold on procedures that can be delayed but “it leaves discretion to the physician to do those procedures that they believe are necessary based on what the clinical condition of the patient is.”

He said if someone develops a serious problem or an emergent situation, “the physician in his or her clinical judgment can work with the patient and do what would otherwise be considered an elective procedure.”

Downs said Executive Order 109 covers both medical and dental procedures.

“So if there’s a problem with either a medical or dental procedure where the patient is in extreme pain, where the condition is worsening, physicians can still schedule patients for surgeries," he said.

He said the idea behind the executive order is to make sure hospitals have enough room and equipment to treat COVID-19 patients and promote social distancing.

He said an example of an elective procedure would be “if a patient had a cosmetic procedure that was scheduled, one that was not necessary for the health of the patient. Another example would be a hernia that may be in stable condition: it should be taken care of but it’s not posing a danger to the patient at that time.”

While many procedures can be delayed, other situations should not be pushed off.

“Suspicious moles that could be melanoma — you want to get those things taken care of," he said.

Downs explained the hold on elective procedures will stay in effort until the emergency situation is over.

“The virus will determine that.”

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