As COVID-19 bears down, doctors confront difficult choices on elective surgeries

When Nikki Martin finished her last round of chemotherapy in August at Baptist Health hospital in Fort Smith, Arkansas, she clanged a bell at the ward — a tradition in cancer centers across the country. Doctors told ABC News they are suddenly confronting some very tough decisions — having to decide whether to proceed or postpone prostate surgeries, colonoscopies, skin cancer removals and a range of other procedures that could mean life or death for their patients, but could also create stress on hospitals bracing for a deluge. “It’s hard to know exactly what an elective visit is,” said Dr. Noah Lindenberg, an oncologist in Marlton, New Jersey.