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Ann Surg ; 2021 Aug 13.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1356743


OBJECTIVE: Our objective was to evaluate changes in elective surgical volume in Michigan while an Executive Order (EO) was in place curtailing elective surgery during the COVID-19 pandemic. SUMMARY BACKGROUND DATA: Many state governors enacted EOs curtailing elective surgery to protect scare resources and generate hospital capacity for patients with COVID-19. Little is known of the effectiveness of an EO on achieving a sustained reduction in elective surgery. METHODS: This retrospective cohort study of data from a statewide claims-based registry in Michigan includes claims from the largest private payer in the state for a representative set of elective operations on adult patients from February 2 through August 1, 2020. We reported trends in surgical volume over the period the EO was in place. Estimated backlogs in elective surgery were calculated using case counts from the same period in 2019. RESULTS: Hospitals achieved an 91.7% reduction in case volume before the EO was introduced. By the time the order was rescinded, hospitals were already performing elective surgery at 60.1% of pre-pandemic case rates. We estimate that a backlog of 6,419 operations was created while the EO was in effect. Had hospitals ceased elective surgery during this period, an additional 18% of patients would have experienced a delay in surgical care. CONCLUSIONS: Both the introduction and removal of Michigan's EO lagged behind the observed ramp-down and ramp-up in elective surgical volume. These data suggest that EOs may not effectively modulate surgical care and could also contribute to unnecessary delays in surgical care.