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Sarfati MR, Griffin CL, Kraiss LW, Smith BK, Brooke BS. Vascular surgery triage during the coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic. Journal of Vascular Surgery. 2021 Jun 1; 73(6):1858-1868.
OBJECTIVE: The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has resulted in a marked increase in hospital usage, medical resource scarcity, and rationing of surgical procedures. This has created the need for strategies to triage surgical patients. We have described our experience using the American College of Surgeons (ACS) COVID-19 guidelines for triage of vascular surgery patients in an academic surgery practice. METHODS: We used the ACS guidelines as a framework to direct the triage of vascular surgery patients during the COVID-19 pandemic. We retrospectively analyzed the results of this triage during the first month of surgical restriction at our hospital. Patients undergoing surgery were identified by reviewing the operating room schedule. We reviewed the electronic medical records (EMRs) and assigned an ACS category, condition, and tier class to each completed surgery. Surgeries that were postponed during the same period were identified from a prospectively maintained list. We reviewed the EMRs for all postponed surgeries and assigned an ACS category, condition, and tier class to each surgery. We reviewed the EMRs for all postponed procedures to identify any adverse events related to the treatment delay. RESULTS: We performed 69 surgeries in 52 patients during the study period. All surgeries were performed to treat emergent, urgent, or time-sensitive elective diagnoses. Of the 69 surgeries, 47 (68%) were from tier 3 and 22 (32%) from tier 2b. We did not perform any surgeries from tier 1 or 2a. We postponed surgery for 66 patients during the same period, of which 36 (55%) were from tier 1, 22 (33%) from tier 2a, 5 (8%) from tier 2b, and 3 (5%) could not be assigned a tier class. No tier 3 surgeries were postponed. Of the 66 patients, 3 (4.5%) experienced an adverse event that could be attributed to the treatment delay. CONCLUSIONS: The ACS triage guidelines provided an effective method to decrease vascular surgical volumes during the COVID-19 pandemic without an increase in patient morbidity. We believe the clinical utility of the guidelines would be strengthened by incorporating the SURGCON/VASCCON (surgical activity condition/vascular activity condition) threat level alert system.