Documenting COVID-19 screening before surgery during lockdown (COVID Screen): an audit with routinely collected health data
AuthorStory, D; Coyle, E; Devapalasundaram, A; Sidiropoulos, S; Ou Yang, B; Coulson, T
Source TitleAustralian Health Review
Document TypeJournal Article
CitationsStory, D., Coyle, E., Devapalasundaram, A., Sidiropoulos, S., Ou Yang, B. & Coulson, T. (2020). Documenting COVID-19 screening before surgery during lockdown (COVID Screen): an audit with routinely collected health data. AUSTRALIAN HEALTH REVIEW, 44 (5), pp.723-727. https://doi.org/10.1071/AH20169.
Access StatusOpen Access
Objective This study analysed screening for COVID-19 before surgery and outcomes of any perioperative testing for SARS-CoV-2 infection during pandemic-restricted surgery. Methods An audit was conducted with routinely collected health data before both elective and non-elective surgery at two large Melbourne hospitals during April and early May 2020. We looked for documented systematic screening for COVID-19 disease and fever (>38°C) and results of SARS-COV-2 testing, and proposed a minimum acceptable documenting rate of 85%. Results The study included 2197 consecutive patients (1279 (58%) undergoing elective surgery, 917 (42%) undergoing non-elective surgery) across most specialities. Although 926 (72%) patients undergoing elective surgery had both systematic screening and temperature documented, approximately half that percentage undergoing non-elective surgery (n=347; 38%) had both documented. However, 871 (95%) of non-elective surgery patients had temperature documented. Acknowledging limited screening, 85 (9.3%) non-elective surgery patients had positive screening, compared with 39 (3.0%) elective surgery patients. All 152 (7%) patients who were tested for SARS-CoV-2 were negative, and no cases were reported from external contact tracing. Conclusions Although 'not documented' does not necessarily equal 'not done', we found that documenting of COVID-19 screening could be improved. Better understanding of implementing screening practices in pandemics and other crises, particularly for non-elective surgery patients, is warranted. What is known about the topic? Little is known about routine screening for SARS-CoV-2 infection among surgical patients. However, it is well established that implementing effective uptake of safety and quality initiatives can be difficult. What does this paper add? We found that although most patients had documented temperature, fewer than 75% had a documented systematic questionnaire screen for COVID, particularly patients undergoing non-elective surgery. What are the implications for practitioners? Clear documenting is important in managing patients. Pandemics and other crises can require rapid changes in practice. Implementing such measures may be less complete than anticipated and may require greater use of evidence-based implementation strategies, particularly in the less predictable care of non-elective surgery patients.
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