Personal protective equipment for reducing the risk of COVID-19 infection among healthcare workers involved in emergency trauma surgery during the pandemic: an umbrella review protocol

Many healthcare facilities in low-income and middle-income countries are inadequately resourced and may lack optimal organisation and governance, especially concerning surgical health systems. COVID-19 has the potential to decimate these already strained surgical healthcare services unless health systems take stringent measures to protect healthcare workers (HCWs) from viral exposure and ensure the continuity of specialised care for patients. The objective of this broad evidence synthesis is to identify and summarise the available literature regarding the efficacy of different personal protective equipment (PPE) in reducing the risk of COVID-19 infection in health personnel caring for patients undergoing trauma surgery in low-resource environments.

We will conduct several searches in the L·OVE (Living OVerview of Evidence) platform for COVID-19, a system that performs automated regular searches in PubMed, Embase, Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials and over 30 other sources. The search results will be presented according to the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses flow diagram. This review will preferentially consider systematic reviews of experimental and quasi-experimental studies, as well as individual studies of such designs, evaluating the effect of different PPE on the risk of COVID-19 infection in HCWs involved in emergency trauma surgery. Critical appraisal of eligible studies for methodological quality will be conducted. Data will be extracted using the standardised data extraction tool in Covidence. Studies will, when possible, be pooled in a statistical meta-analysis using JBI SUMARI. The Grading of Recommendations, Assessment, Development and Evaluation approach for grading the certainty of evidence will be followed and a summary of findings will be created.

Ethics and dissemination
Ethical approval is not required for this review. The plan for dissemination is to publish review findings in a peer-reviewed journal and present findings at high-level conferences that engage the most pertinent stakeholders.

Publicly funded interfacility ambulance transfers for surgical and obstetrical conditions: A cross sectional analysis in an urban middle-income country setting

Interfacility transfers may reflect a time delay of definitive surgical care, but few studies have examined the prevalence of interfacility transfers in the urban low- and middle-income (LMIC) setting. The aim of this study was to determine the number of interfacility transfers required for surgical and obstetric conditions in an urban MIC setting to better understand access to definitive surgical care among LMIC patients.

A retrospective analysis of public interfacility transfer records was conducted from April 2015 to April 2016 in Cali, Colombia. Data were obtained from the single municipal ambulance agency providing publicly funded ambulance transfers in the city. Interfacility transfers were defined as any patient transfer between two healthcare facilities. We identified the number of transfers for patients with surgical conditions and categorized transfers based on patient ICD-9-CM codes. We compared surgical transfers from public vs. private healthcare facilities by condition type (surgical, obstetric, nonsurgical), transferring physician specialty, and transfer acuity (code blue, emergent, urgent and nonurgent) using logistic regression.

31,659 patient transports occurred over the 13-month study period. 22250 (70.2%) of all transfers were interfacility transfers and 7777 (35%) of transfers were for patients with surgical conditions with an additional 2,244 (10.3%) for obstetric conditions. 49% (8660/17675) of interfacility transfers from public hospitals were for surgical and obstetric conditions vs 32% (1466/4580) for private facilities (P<0.001). The most common surgical conditions requiring interfacility transfer were fractures (1,227, 5.4%), appendicitis (913, 4.1%), wounds (871, 3.9%), abdominal pain (818, 3.6%), trauma (652, 2.9%), and acute abdomen (271, 1.2%).

Surgical and obstetric conditions account for nearly half of all urban interfacility ambulance transfers. The most common reasons for transfer are basic surgical conditions with public healthcare facilities transferring a greater proportion of patient with surgical conditions than private facilities. Timely access to an initial healthcare facility may not be a reliable surrogate of definitive surgical care given the substantial need for interfacility transfers.