December 1, 2020

Effect of cancelling elective surgery on ICU bed, ventilator capacity

By: Judy Mathias
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Editor's Note

This study led by researchers at the Icahn School of Medicine, Mount Sinai, New York City, finds that patients having elective surgery make up a small fraction of ICU bed and mechanical ventilation use in New York State.

The researchers reviewed 5 years of New York State data on ICU utilization and mechanical ventilation.


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From 2011 to 2015:

  • 13.4% of ICU admissions were related to elective surgery, and 6.4% required mechanical ventilation
  • 28.0% of ICU admissions were related to emergent/urgent admissions/trauma surgery, and 32.8% required mechanical ventilation
  • 58.6% of ICU admissions were related to medical admissions, and 60.8% required mechanical ventilation.

New York City holds the majority of ICU beds (ie, 2,496 of 3,566) in New York State.

Suspending elective surgeries in response to the COVID-19 pandemic may have a minor effect on ICU capacity, compared to other sources of ICU admissions, such as emergent/urgent admissions/trauma surgery and medical admissions, the researchers say.

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