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Ir J Med Sci ; 2021 Nov 25.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1530391


BACKGROUND: The SARS-CoV-2 pandemic caused severe disruption to scheduled surgery in Ireland but its impact on emergency abdominal surgery (EAS) is unknown. AIMS: The primary objective was to identify changes in volume, length of stay (LOS), and survival outcomes following EAS during the pandemic. A secondary objective was to evaluate differences in EAS patient flow including admission source, ITU utilisation, discharge destination, and readmission rates. METHODS: Using a national administrative dataset, demographic, comorbidity, and patient flow data on 5611 patients admitted for EAS between 2018 and 2020 were extracted. Pre-pandemic and pandemic timeframes were compared using graphic and regression analyses, and bivariate logistic regression, adjusting for demographics and case-mix. RESULTS: There was a 19.9% decrease in EAS during the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic with no difference in comorbidity, nor in the commonest procedures. Most patients (92.4%) were admitted from home. In-hospital post-operative mortality was unchanged (7.6%). Patients over 80 comprised 16.3% of EAS pre-COVID, but 17.9% during COVID. Average total LOS reduced significantly by 4.9 days and 3.5 days during COVID-19 waves 1 (29 Feb 2020-30 June 2020) and 2 (1 July 2020-30 Nov 2020), respectively. During wave 1, pre-operative LOS reduced (1 day) and ICU LOS was significantly shorter (0.8 days), but similar change was not observed during wave 2. CONCLUSIONS: Significant improvements in patient flow following admission for EAS during the pandemic were observed. These changes were not associated with greater mortality nor increased readmission rates and offer important insights into optimal delivery of EAS services.