On April 7, 2020, noting that "the COVID-19 outbreak in Louisiana is continuing to expand significantly," "[t]he number of reported cases and deaths is expected to rise in the state in the coming weeks," and "[a]dditional measures are necessary to protect the health and safety of the public," the Louisiana Department of Health issued an emergency order extending until 11:59 p.m. on April 30, 2020 (subject to possible future extension), the effect of various notices and orders previously issued by the Department, including its March 21 updated notice mandating the postponement of elective medical and surgical procedures and certain other in-person healthcare services.
As previously reported, the Department's March 21 updated notice ordered all medical and surgical procedures to be postponed effective immediately and until further notice subject only to the following exceptions:
(i) Medical and surgical procedures are allowed in order to treat an "emergency medical condition" as defined at 42 C.F.R. § 489.24 (i.e., "(1) [a] medical condition manifesting itself by acute symptoms of sufficient severity (including severe pain, psychiatric disturbances and/or symptoms of substance abuse) such that absence of immediate medical attention could reasonably be expected to result in (i) placing the health of the individual (or, with respect to a pregnant woman, the health of the woman or her unborn child) in serious jeopardy; (ii) [s]erious impairment to bodily functions; or (iii) [s]erious dysfunction of any bodily organ or part; or (2) [w]ith respect to a pregnant woman who is having contractions—(i) [t]hat there is inadequate time to effect a safe transfer to another hospital before delivery; or (ii) [t]hat transfer may pose a threat to the health or safety of the woman or unborn child); and
(ii) Medical and surgical procedures are allowed to avoid further harms from an underlying condition or disease.
The March 21 updated notice further mandated that, in connection with healthcare services other than medical and surgical procedures and effective immediately, "all healthcare providers postpone all in-person healthcare services that can be safely postponed for 30 days." In fulfilling this mandate, the updated notice also provided that healthcare providers (a) "shall use their best medical judgment within the scope of their license to make this determination," (b) "shall consider the entire clinical picture when determining if a service can be safely postponed, including the consequences to the patient of postponement and the consequences to the healthcare system," and (c) "[if] acting in good faith shall not be found to be in violation of this directive." The Department's April 7 emergency order now extends this mandate beyond 30 days and through (at least) April 30.
Finally, the March 21 updated notice confirmed that its mandates apply to all licensed health care facilities in Louisiana and all healthcare professionals licensed, certified, authorized, or permitted by any board, authority or commission under the Department.