Almost 71 per cent of India’s planned surgeries, numbering more than 5,80,000, could be cancelled or postponed over a twelve-week period due to the coronavirus pandemic, according to a study in the British Journal of Surgery.
“The risks of exposing patients to perioperative SARS-CoV-2 infection by performing surgery during outbreaks are high, but must be weighed against the risks of protracted treatment delays,” the study states.”Governments should mitigate against this major burden on patients by developing recovery plans and implementing strategies to safely restore surgical activity.”
In a best-case scenario, benign surgeries may be worst hit with 80 per cent (5,05,864) procedures being cancelled or postponed, followed by cancer surgeries (60 per cent or 51,134 procedures) and orthopedics (30 per cent or 27,740 procedures).
The study also estimated a backlog of 556,998 surgeries which would take 93 weeks to clear if surgical volume increased by 10 per cent.
“Governments will need to fund substantial increases in baseline surgical volume to clear backlogs, but this is likely to be costly. For example, based on an average cost of £4,000 per operation, it would cost over £2 billion to clear the United Kingdom’s backlog.”
The researcher used data from previous studies on elective surgery volumes, and then projected cancellation rates from a response survey with senior surgeons who either estimated best and worst case scenarios or reported the actual figures. Expert responses in India came from Cims Hospital, National Institute of Mental Health & Neurosciences, and Tata Memorial Centre.
Stratified by the World Bank country income group, upper-middle income countries will have most cancellations. India is labeled as lower middle income country and was in the third highest strata of cancellation numbers.
Countries such as Thailand and Indonesia had some of the highest percentage of cancellation projections.
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