Surgery Rates in the United States Rebounded Quickly After Initial COVID-19 Stop | Information Center

As of July 2020, hospitals nationwide had stepped up surgeries with improved safety protocols, and surgery rates began to return to – if not exceed – their 2019 levels. By the end of the year, the total volume of surgeries was only 10% lower than the 2019 volume.

The JAMA study looked at 11 broad surgical categories, from cataract surgeries to transplant patients. With the exception of ear, nose and throat surgeries, which maintained a persistent decline of around 30%, surgical volume in each major category returned to pre-pandemic levels in July 2020.

The rapid rebound is likely due to a number of factors, Wren said, including the advent of COVID-19 testing and regional differences in the prevalence of COVID-19 cases. The majority of surgeries in the United States can be done on an outpatient basis, so many surgeons could operate without filling inpatient beds, she said. Additionally, since surgeries often generate a large portion of a hospital’s revenue, there was great financial pressure for hospitals to reopen their operating rooms.

“When the ball started rolling again, it actually rolled faster,” said Arden morris, MD, professor of surgery and one of the authors of the article. “As of June 2020, surgeons at Stanford have been operating at a capacity we have never operated on before. And while this is not true at all facilities, many other surgeons across the country have anecdotally reported that they are busier than they have ever been.

Operating rooms open despite new outbreaks of COVID-19

Even when a second wave of COVID-19 cases occurred during the fall and winter of 2020, researchers found that surgeries were continuing at normal or even high rates. When they compared COVID-19 infections and state-by-state surgical volumes for all of 2020, the researchers found that more COVID cases correlated with fewer surgeries during the initial shutdown, but not during the peak period, when there was an eight-fold increase in COVID-19 cases.

“This tells us that we have learned something, institutionally and nationally, about how to provide care in times of crisis,” Morris said. “Even if the supply lines were compromised; as we tried to preserve PPE; and, more importantly, because we have limited the transmission of this highly transmissible virus, we have been able to provide care at essentially the same rates as usual. “

Researchers will continue to study pandemic trends to better understand how to sort out surgical care, both during an acute crisis like COVID-19 and in areas of the world where medical resources are still scarce. “We are trying to find valid ways of asking, ‘What is the minimum number of transactions necessary and of what type, for a company to function? ”Morris said.

“We know that a new wave of COVID will be associated with the upcoming winter break,” she said, “especially now that there is a new, highly contagious variant. But this research gives me hope that we will be able to maintain high quality care in the next raise because of everything we have learned.

The other co-authors of the article are a Stanford medical student and lead author Aviva Mattingly; health economist Liam Rose, PhD, Stanford Surgery Policy Improvement Research and Education Center (S-SPIRE); Hyrum S. Eddington, data manager at S-SPIRE; Delicate Amber, PhD, MS, senior biostatistician at S-SPIRE; and Mark Cullen, MD, former professor of medicine and population health at the Stanford School of Medicine.

This study was funded by a seed grant from Stanford University School of Medicine Department of Surgery.

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