Purpose: The COVID-19 pandemic is importantly affecting the orthopaedic practice all over the world with Northern Italy being the first European area that faced the worst scenario. In this study, the changes in clinical practice occurred in an orthopaedic center in Milan are described.
Methods: Number and type of admissions, outpatients cancelled and preserved, emergency room, and intensive care unit activities have been analyzed in the timeframe of seven weeks since the beginning of the pandemic (from February 24th to April 10th) and compared with the same period in 2019.
Results: The planned surgical admissions declined from 2172 in 2019 to 664 in 2020 (69.42%, p < 0.0001), while emergencies increased from 158 to 268 (69.62%). The rehabilitation admissions declined from 414 to 69 (83.33%). The overall admission decreased by 63.52%, the trend showed a drop in the last weeks. Surgery performed in the COVID-19 operating room increased by 16.7% in the last week. Seven deaths occurred (0.7% of all orthopaedics and trauma admissions) compared with four (0.1%) which happened in the same period in 2019 (p = 0.004). Six of these patients were suffering from COVID-19. A total of 23,580 outpatients (93.8%) were cancelled. Emergency room consultations declined by 68.14% and 63.47% among white and green priority, respectively, while increased by 25% and 100% among yellow and red, respectively.
Conclusion: These numbers show the radical changed scenario in an orthopaedic center in Milan during COVID-19 pandemic. Elective surgery declined rapidly going close to zero, outpatient admissions were restricted to cases that cannot be postponed, while emergencies increased due to the role played by the hospital as referral orthopaedic centre during the pandemic. The still ongoing emergency will have important impacts on the overall orthopaedic healthcare management for the next months.
Keywords: COVID-19; Coronavirus; Healthcare systems; Orthopaedic surgery; Orthopaedic trauma.