Association between government policy and delays in emergent and elective surgical care during the COVID-19 pandemic in Brazil: a modeling study

Background
The impact of public health policy to reduce the spread of COVID-19 on access to surgical care is poorly defined. We aim to quantify the surgical backlog during the COVID-19 pandemic in the Brazilian public health system and determine the relationship between state-level policy response and the degree of state-level delays in public surgical care.

Methods
Monthly estimates of surgical procedures performed per state from January 2016 to December 2020 were obtained from Brazil’s Unified Health System Informatics Department. Forecasting models using historical surgical volume data before March 2020 (first reported COVID-19 case) were constructed to predict expected monthly operations from March through December 2020. Total, emergency, and elective surgical monthly backlogs were calculated by comparing reported volume to forecasted volume. Linear mixed effects models were used to model the relationship between public surgical delivery and two measures of health policy response: the COVID-19 Stringency Index (SI) and the Containment & Health Index (CHI) by state.

Findings
Between March and December 2020, the total surgical backlog included 1,119,433 (95% Confidence Interval 762,663–1,523,995) total operations, 161,321 (95%CI 37,468–395,478) emergent operations, and 928,758 (95%CI 675,202–1,208,769) elective operations. Increased SI and CHI scores were associated with reductions in emergent surgical delays but increases in elective surgical backlogs. The maximum government stringency (score = 100) reduced emergency delays to nearly zero but tripled the elective surgical backlog.

Interpretation
Strong health policy efforts to contain COVID-19 ensure minimal reductions in delivery of emergent surgery, but dramatically increase elective backlogs. Additional coordinated government efforts will be necessary to specifically address the increased elective backlogs that accompany stringent responses.

Challenges in Providing Surgical Procedures During the COVID-19 Pandemic: Qualitative Study Among Operating Department Practitioners in Pakistan

ackground: Operating Department Practitioners (ODPs) are neglected human resources for health with regard to both professional development and research for patient safety. The surgical theatre is associated with the highest mortality rates and with the onslaught of the COVID-19 pandemic. ODPs are key practitioners with respect to infection control during surgeries. Therefore, this study aims to describe challenges faced by ODPs. The secondary aim is to use empirical evidence to inform the public health sector management about both ODP professional development and improvement in surgical procedures, with a specific focus on pandemics.

Methods: A qualitative study has been conducted. Data collection was based on an interview guide with open-ended questions. Interviews with 39 ODPs in public sector teaching hospitals of Pakistan who have been working during the COVID-19 pandemic were part of the analysis. Content analysis was used to generate themes.

Results: Ten themes related to challenges faced by ODPs in delivering services during the pandemic for securing patient safety were identified: (i) Disparity in training for prevention of COVID-19; (ii) Shortcomings in COVID-19 testing; (iii) Supply shortages of personal protective equipment; (iv) Challenges in maintaining physical distance and prevention protocols; (v) Human resource shortages and role burden; (vi) Problems with hospital administration; (vii) Exclusion and hierarchy; (viii) Teamwork limitations and other communication issues; (ix) Error Management; and (x) Anxiety and fear.

Conclusions: The public health sector, in Pakistan and other developing regions, need to invest in the professional development of ODPs and improve resources and structures for surgical procedures, during pandemics and otherwis

Emergency general surgery in a public hospital in Malaysia

Introduction: Patients undergoing emergency general surgery (EGS) are at risk for death and complications. Information on the burden of EGS is critical for developing strategies to improve the outcomes.

Methods: In this retrospective cohort study, medical records of all general surgical operations in a public hospital were reviewed for the period 1st January 2017 to 31st December 2017. Data on patient demographics, operative workload, case mix, time of surgery and outcomes were analysed.

Results: Of the 2960 general surgical operations that were performed in 2017, 1720 (58.1%) of the procedures were performed as emergencies. The mean age for the patients undergoing emergency general surgical procedures was 37.9 years (Standard Deviation, ±21.0), with male preponderance (57.5%). Appendicitis was the most frequent diagnosis for the emergency procedures (43%) followed by infections of the skin and soft tissues (31.6%). Disorders of the colon and rectum ranked as the third most common condition, accounting for 6.7% of the emergency procedures. Majority of emergency surgery (59.3%) took place after office hours and on weekends. Post-operative deaths and admissions to critical care facilities increased during EGS when compared to elective surgery, p<0.01.

Conclusions: EGS constitutes a major part of the workload of general surgeons and it is associated significant risk for death and post-operative complications. The burden of EGS must be recognised and patient care systems must evolve to make surgery safe and efficient.

Cost-effectiveness of Emergency Care Interventions in Low and Middle-Income Countries: A Systematic Review

Objective: To systematically review and appraise the quality of cost-effectiveness analyses of emergency care interventions in low- and middle-income countries.

Methods: Following the PRISMA guidelines, we systematically searched PubMed®, Scopus, EMBASE®, Cochrane Library and Web of Science for studies published before May 2019. Inclusion criteria were: (i) an original cost-effectiveness analysis of emergency care intervention or intervention package, and (ii) the analysis occurred in a low- and middle-income setting. To identify additional primary studies, we hand searched the reference lists of included studies. We used the Consolidated Health Economic Evaluation Reporting Standards guideline to appraise the quality of included studies.

Results: Of the 1674 articles we identified, 35 articles met the inclusion criteria. We identified an additional four studies from the reference lists. We excluded many studies for being deemed costing assessments without an effectiveness analysis. Most included studies were single-intervention analyses. Emergency care interventions evaluated by included studies covered prehospital services, provider training, treatment interventions, emergency diagnostic tools and facilities and packages of care. The reporting quality of the studies varied.

Conclusion: We found large gaps in the evidence surrounding the cost-effectiveness of emergency care interventions in low- and middle-income settings. Given the breadth of interventions currently in practice, many interventions remain unassessed, suggesting the need for future research to aid resource allocation decisions. In particular, packages of multiple interventions and system-level changes represent a priority area for future research.

Burden of emergency pediatric surgical procedures on surgical capacity in Uganda: a new metric for health system performance

Background: The significant burden of emergency operations in low- and middle-income countries can overwhelm surgical capacity leading to a backlog of elective surgical cases. The purpose of this investigation was to determine the burden of emergency procedures on pediatric surgical capacity in Uganda and to determine health metrics that capture surgical backlog and effective coverage of children’s surgical disease in low- and middle-income countries.

Methods: We reviewed 2 independent and prospectively collected databases on pediatric surgical admissions at Mulago National Referral Hospital and Mbarara Regional Referral Hospital in Uganda. Pediatric surgical patients admitted at either hospital between October 2015 to June 2017 were included. Our primary outcome was the distribution of surgical acuity and associated mortality.

Results: A combined total of 1,930 patients were treated at the two hospitals, and 1,110 surgical procedures were performed. There were 571 emergency cases (51.6%), 108 urgent cases (9.7%), and 429 elective cases (38.6%). Overall mortality correlated with surgical acuity. Emergency intestinal diversions for colorectal congenital malformations (anorectal malformations and Hirschsprung’s disease) to elective definitive repair was 3:1. Additionally, 30% of inguinal hernias were incarcerated or strangulated at time of repair.

Conclusion: Emergency and urgent operations utilize the majority of operative resources for pediatric surgery groups in low- and middle-income countries, leading to a backlog of complex congenital procedures. We propose the ratio of emergency diversion to elective repair of colorectal congenital malformations and the ratio of emergency to elective repair of inguinal hernias as effective health metrics to track this backlog. Surgical capacity for pediatric conditions should be increased in Uganda to prevent a backlog of elective cases.

A case report of a polytrauma patient with penetrating iron rods in thorax and head

Impalement injury is an uncommon presentation, and penetrating chest injuries account for 1% to 13% of thoracic trauma hospital admissions. The vast majority of patients with penetrating thoracic trauma who survive to reach the hospital alive can be managed nonoperatively. Nevertheless, in 10% to 15% of cases, emergency operation is necessary due to the associated hemorrhagic shock and visceral injury.
Here, we report on a 39-year-old male, a construction worker, who fell down from a height of a construction site, landing ventrally on a clump of iron rods with 4 projecting heavy metallic rods penetrating into his thorax and head (scalp pierced only). Emergency surgery was taken, and the patient had an uneventful successful outcome.
After massive thoracic impalement, rapid transportation to a tertiary trauma center with the impaled objects in situ can improve the outcome. Video-assisted thoracic surgery (VATS) is recommended to remove the foreign body under direct vision and to reduce the incidence of missed, potentially fatal vascular or visceral injuries.

Evaluation of Resources Necessary for Provision of Trauma Care in Botswana: An Initiative for a Local System.

Developing countries face the highest incidence of trauma, and on the other hand, they do not have resources for mitigating the scourge of these injuries. The World Health Organization through the Essential Trauma Care (ETC) project provides recommendations for improving management of the injured and building up of systems that are effective in low-middle-income countries (LMICs). This study uses ETC project recommendations and other trauma-care guidelines to evaluate the current status of the resources and organizational structures necessary for optimal trauma care in Botswana; an African country with relatively good health facilities network, subsidized public hospital care and a functioning Motor Vehicle Accident fund covering road traffic collision victims.A cross-sectional descriptive design employed convenience sampling for recruiting high-volume trauma hospitals and selecting candidates. A questionnaire, checklist, and physical verification of resources were utilized to evaluate resources, staff knowledge, and organization-of-care and hospital capabilities. Results are provided in plain descriptive language to demonstrate the findings.Necessary consumables, good infrastructure, adequate numbers of personnel and rehabilitation services were identified all meeting or exceeding ETC recommendations. Deficiencies were noted in staff knowledge of initial trauma care, district hospital capability to provide essential surgery, and the organization of trauma care.The good level of resources available in Botswana may be used to improve trauma care: To further this process, more empowering of high-volume trauma hospitals by adopting trauma-care recommendations and inclusive trauma-system approaches are desirable. The use of successful examples on enhanced surgical skills and capabilities, effective trauma-care resource management, and leadership should be encouraged.