The effect of COVID-19 on the trauma burden, theatre efficiency and training opportunities in a district general hospital: planning for a future outbreak

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Bone Jt Open. 2020 Aug 18;1(8):494-499. doi: 10.1302/2633-1462.18.BJO-2020-0074.R1. eCollection 2020 Aug.


AIMS: The aim of this study is to determine the effects of the UK lockdown during the COVID-19 pandemic on the orthopaedic admissions, operations, training opportunities, and theatre efficiency in a large district general hospital.

METHODS: The number of patients referred to the orthopaedic team between 1 April 2020 and 30 April 2020 were collected. Other data collected included patient demographics, number of admissions, number and type of operations performed, and seniority of primary surgeon. Theatre time was collected consisting of anaesthetic time, surgical time, time to leave theatre, and turnaround time. Data were compared to the same period in 2019.

RESULTS: There was a significant increase in median age of admitted patients during lockdown (70.5 (interquartile range (IQR) 46.25 to 84) vs 57 (IQR 27 to 79.75); p = 0.017) with a 26% decrease in referrals from 303 to 224 patients and 37% decrease in admissions from 177 to 112 patients, with a significantly higher proportion of hip fracture admissions (33% (n = 37) vs 19% (n = 34); p = 0.011). Paediatric admissions decreased by 72% from 32 to nine patients making up 8% of admissions during lockdown compared to 18.1% the preceding year (p = 0.002) with 66.7% reduction in paediatric operations, from 18 to 6. There was a significant increase in median turnaround time (13 minutes (IQR 12 to 33) vs 60 minutes (IQR 41 to 71); p < 0.001) although there was no significant difference in the anaesthetic time or surgical time. There was a 38% (61 vs 38) decrease in trainee-led operations.

DISCUSSION: The lockdown resulted in large decreases in referrals and admissions. Despite this, hip fracture admissions were unaffected and should remain a priority for trauma service planning in future lockdowns. As plans to resume normal elective and trauma services begin, hospitals should focus on minimising theatre turnaround time to maximize theatre efficiency while prioritizing training opportunities.

CLINICAL RELEVANCE: Lockdown has resulted in decreases in the trauma burden although hip fractures remain unaffected requiring priorityTheatre turnaround times and training opportunities are affected and should be optimised prior to the resumption of normal services.Cite this article: Bone Joint Open 2020;1-8:494-499.

PMID:33215144 | PMC:PMC7659630 | DOI:10.1302/2633-1462.18.BJO-2020-0074.R1