Says, ‘Those who violate the Department of Health’s directive will be met with decisive action’
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge warns all licensed health care professionals and all licensed health care facilities, including abortion providers, that pursuant the April 3, 2020 Directive on Elective Surgeries issued by the Department of Health, they must postpone all surgeries and procedures that are not immediately medically necessary.
“Arkansans must work together to combat the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “All medically unnecessary surgeries and procedures, including abortions, must be postponed until after this crisis has ended. Those who violate the Department of Health’s directive will be met with decisive action, and my office will forcefully defend the State officials involved in keeping Arkansans safe.”
Last Friday, the Department of Health issued a directive mandating that all surgeries and procedures that can be safely postponed to a further date be postponed while the COVID-19 emergency is ongoing. This prohibition applies throughout the State to all surgeries and procedures that are not immediately medically necessary, including routine dental and eye visits, as well as most scheduled healthcare procedures such as orthopedic surgeries or any type of abortion that is not immediately medically necessary to preserve the life or health of the mother.
The Department of Health, acting within its emergency powers under Governor Hutchinson’s March 11 emergency proclamation, issued this directive to preserve staff, personal protective equipment and patient care supplies to ensure staff and patient safety and to expand available hospital capacity during the COVID-19 pandemic. Postponing surgeries and procedures that are not immediately medically necessary will ensure the availability of hospital beds and personal protective equipment needed to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. The failure of healthcare facilities to comply with the Department of Health’s directive will lead to administrative penalties, up to and including license suspension.