November 2, 2020

Effect of elective surgery cancellation on ICU capacity in New York State

Editor's Note

Suspension of elective surgical procedures in response to the COVID-19 pandemic in New York State had only a minor effect on ICU capacity, this study finds.

State authorities suspended all elective surgical procedures in mid-March 2020 to increase hospital and ICU bed capacity. However, the effect of canceling elective surgical procedures on ICU bed and ventilator capacity has not been well studied.

This study, led by researchers from Icahn School of Medicine, Mount Sinai, New York City, reviewed 5 years of New York State data on ICU usage. ICU admissions were found in 10.1% of all hospitalizations and remained stable from 2011 to 2015.

Of 1,232,986 ICU stays, sources of admission included:

  • elective surgery, 13.4%
  • emergent/urgent admissions/trauma surgery, 28%
  • medical admissions, 58.6%.

Ventilator use was found in 26.3% of all ICU patients:

  • elective surgery, 6.4%
  • emergent admissions, 32.8%
  • medical admissions, 60.8%.

The researchers concluded that ICU admissions from patients after elective surgery is likely to have only a small effect on ICU bed availability. The results may be valuable for hospital administrators and disaster planning policymakers to optimize the response to future diseases.


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