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J Clin Pathol ; 2022 Jan 17.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1636416


AIMS: Widespread disruption of healthcare services and excess mortality not directly attributed to COVID-19 occurred between March and May 2020. We undertook the first UK multicentre study of coroners' autopsies before and during this period using postmortem reports. METHODS: We reviewed reports of non-forensic coroners' autopsies performed during the first COVID-19 lockdown (23 March to 8 May 2020), and the same period in 2018. Deaths were categorised as natural non-COVID-19, COVID-19-related, non-natural (suicide, drug and alcohol-related, traumatic, other). We provided opinion regarding whether delayed access to medical care or changes in behaviour due to lockdown were a potential factor in deaths. RESULTS: Seven centres covering nine coronial jurisdictions submitted a total of 1100 coroners' autopsies (498 in 2018, 602 in 2020). In only 54 autopsies was death attributed to COVID-19 (9%). We identified a significant increase in cases where delays in accessing medical care potentially contributed to death (10 in 2018, 44 in 2020). Lockdown was a contributing factor in a proportion of suicides (24%) and drug and alcohol-related deaths (12%). CONCLUSIONS: Postmortem reports have considerable utility in evaluating excess mortality due to healthcare and wider societal disruption during a pandemic. They provide information at an individual case level that is not available from assessment of death certification data. Detailed evaluation of coroners' autopsy reports, supported by appropriate regulatory oversight, is recommended to mitigate disruption and indirect causes of mortality in future pandemics. Maintaining access to healthcare, including substance misuse and mental health services, is an important consideration.

J Clin Pathol ; 2021 Sep 17.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1430204


AIMS: The aim of this study is to evaluate whether there has been a significant change in the frequency of markedly decomposed bodies having coronial autopsies since the UK's first COVID-19 lockdown. METHODS: We compared coronial autopsies (n=263) performed by one pathologist at a central London mortuary in the 1 year before and after 23 March 2020 by analysing their autopsy reports and coronial documentation. RESULTS: We have shown that there has been a significant increase of 70.5% (p=0.001) in the frequency of markedly decomposed bodies having coronial autopsies since the first lockdown. This is associated with a 38% increase (p=0.0001) in the rate of those dying at home and a 52.4% decrease (p=0.00003) in the rate of those dying in hospital who go on to have a coronial autopsy in our facility. Our results suggest that the most significant factor behind the increased frequency in advanced decomposition change since the first lockdown is this increase in coronial autopsies for deaths at home relative to deaths in hospital. CONCLUSION: Our results support the idea that perimortem social isolation will lead to an increased frequency of advanced decomposition changes seen at autopsy. We suggest that it could be possible to use the frequency of advanced postmortem decomposition change in a population as a surrogate marker for social isolation in future studies. Our study also illustrates a changing environment where the increasing prevalence of postmortem decomposition changes could affect the accuracy of autopsy reports and the medicolegal consequences thereof.

Cardiovasc Revasc Med ; 31: 26-31, 2021 10.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-956955


BACKGROUND: The risk of nosocomial COVID-19 infection for vulnerable aortic stenosis patients and intensive care resource utilization has led to cardiac surgery deferral. Untreated severe symptomatic aortic stenosis has a dismal prognosis. TAVR offers an attractive alternative to surgery as it is not reliant on intensive care resources. We set out to explore the safety and operational efficiency of restructuring a TAVR service and redeploying it to a new non-surgical site during the COVID-19 pandemic. METHODS: The institutional prospective service database was retrospectively interrogated for the first 50 consecutive elective TAVR cases prior to and after our institution's operational adaptations for the COVID-19 pandemic. Our endpoints were VARC-2 defined procedural complications, 30-day mortality or re-admission and service efficiency metrics. RESULTS: The profile of patients undergoing TAVR during the pandemic was similar to patients undergoing TAVR prior to the pandemic with the exception of a lower mean age (79 vs 82 years, p < 0.01) and median EuroScore II (3.1% vs 4.6%, p = 0.01). The service restructuring and redeployment contributed to the pandemic-mandated operational efficiency with a reduction in the distribution of pre-admission hospital visits (3 vs 3 visits, p < 0.001) and the time taken from TAVR clinic to procedure (26 vs 77 days, p < 0.0001) when compared to the pre-COVID-19 service. No statistically significant difference was noted in peri-procedural complications and 30-day outcomes, while post-operative length of stay was significantly reduced (2 vs 3 days, p < 0.0001) when compared to pre-COVID-19 practice. CONCLUSIONS: TAVR service restructuring and redeployment to align with pandemic-mandated healthcare resource rationalization is safe and feasible.

Aortic Valve Stenosis , COVID-19 , Heart Valve Prosthesis Implantation , Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement , Aged, 80 and over , Aortic Valve/surgery , Aortic Valve Stenosis/diagnostic imaging , Aortic Valve Stenosis/epidemiology , Aortic Valve Stenosis/surgery , Humans , Pandemics , Prospective Studies , Retrospective Studies , Risk Factors , SARS-CoV-2 , Time Factors , Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement/adverse effects , Treatment Outcome