May 23, 2022

Association of COVID-19 with disparities in access to major surgery

By: Judy Mathias

Editor's Note

This study, led by researchers from the University of Rochester (NY) School of Medicine, finds that the early response to the COVID-19 pandemic did not increase disparities in access to major surgical procedures.

Of 3,470,905 adults hospitalized for major surgical procedures at 719 facilities between January 1, 2018, and October 31, 2020, there was a 51% reduction in the number of monthly elective cases during the first wave of COVID-19 (March 1 to May 31, 2020).

The relative reduction in unadjusted elective cases for Blacks, Asians, and other race individuals during the surge period, compared with the baseline period, was very close to the change in cases for Whites.

After adjusting for age, gender, comorbidities, and surgical procedure, there was still no evidence that the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic was associated with disparities in access to elective surgical procedures for racial minority groups.

The researchers concluded that in a future pandemic, national efforts to limit elective surgical procedures as a way to increase hospital capacity can be implemented without increasing disparities in access to surgical care.


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