Orthopaedic trauma during COVID-19: Is patient care compromised during a pandemic?

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BACKGROUND: The Coronavirus disease-2019 (COVID-19) placed unprecedented pressure on the healthcare system. Many institutions implemented a government-mandated restructured set of safety and administrative protocols to treat urgent orthopaedic trauma patients. The objective of this study was to compare two cohorts of patients, a COVID group and non-COVID control group, and to evaluate the effectiveness of safety measures outlined in the Rutgers Orthopaedic Trauma Patient Safety Protocol (ROTPSP). Secondary outcomes were to elucidate risk factors for complications associated with fractures and COVID-19.

METHODS: Patients treated for orthopaedic traumatic injuries were retrospectively identified between March and May 2020, and compared to a series of patients from the same time period in 2018. Main outcome measures included surgical site infections (SSI), length of stay (LOS), post-operative LOS (poLOS), presentation to OR time (PORT), and length of surgery.

RESULTS: After review, 349 patients (201 non-COVID, 148 COVID) undergoing 426 surgeries were included. Average LOS (11.91 days vs. 9.27 days, p = 0.04), poLOS (9.68 days vs. 7.39 days, p = 0.03), and PORT (30.56 vs. 25.59 h, p < 0.01) was significantly shorter in the COVID cohort. There were less SSI in the COVID group (5) compared to the non-COVID group (14) (p = 0.03). Overall complications were significantly lower in the COVID group. Patients receiving Cepheid tests had significantly shorter LOS and poLOS compared to patients receiving the RNA and DiaSorin tests (p < 0.01 and p < 0.01, respectively). The Cepheid test carried the best benefit-to-cost ratio, 0.10, p < 0.05.

CONCLUSION: The restructuring of care protocols caused by COVID-19 did not negatively impact perioperative complication rates, PORT or LOS. Cepheid COVID test type administered upon admission plays an integral role in a patient's hospital course by reducing both length of stay and hospital costs. This information demonstrates we can continue to treat orthopaedic trauma patients safely during the COVID-19 pandemic by utilizing strict safety protocols.



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Medicine and Health Sciences




Department of Surgery

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