Virus could cause 28 mn cancelled surgeries globally: study
PARIS, May 15, 2020 (BSS/AFP) – Some 28.4 million planned surgeries could
be cancelled or postponed globally due to the new coronavirus pandemic,
according to new research warning that huge backlogs risk “potentially
devastating” consequences for patients and health systems.
The study, published this week in the British Journal of Surgery, modelled
the expected number of elective operations that would be put on hold in 190
countries during a 12-week peak of COVID-19 disruption.
Hospitals in countries grappling with major coronavirus outbreaks have
postponed most non-emergency procedures to avoid putting patients at risk,
redeploying staff and resources to the virus response.
Researchers from the COVIDSurg Collaborative, an information sharing
network of surgeons and anaesthetists in 77 countries, estimated that some
2.4 million operations would be cancelled per week in the period, or 28.4
million in total.
They called on governments to urgently develop recovery plans to clear the
backlog of surgeries and prepare for possible further waves of COVID-19
“Cancelling elective surgery at this scale will have substantial impact on
patients and cumulative, potentially devastating consequences for health
systems worldwide,” the authors said.
“Delaying time-sensitive elective operations, such as cancer or transplant
surgery, may lead to deteriorating health, worsening quality of life, and
Globally, around 82 percent of benign surgeries, 38 percent of cancer
operations and around a quarter of elective Caesarean sections would be
cancelled or postponed, the study found.
It said that it would take an average of 45 weeks to clear the backlog,
assuming that countries boost their normal surgical volume by 20 percent.
The researchers used survey data from specialists at 359 hospitals in 71
countries, as well as information on normal surgery rates to model the likely
effect across 190 countries.
Their estimate that the peak surge of infections would last around 12 weeks
was based on the experience of China’s Hubei province, where the virus