The sudden COVID-19 outbreak in Italy has challenged our health systems and doctors faced the challenge of treating a large number of critically ill patients in a short time interval. Acute care surgeons, although not directly involved in treating COVID-19 + patients, have often modified their daily activity to help in this crisis. We have designed the first Italian survey on the effect of COVID-19 outbreak on Acute Care Surgery activity and submitted it to emergency surgeons in all the country to evaluate the experiences, trends, attitudes and possible educational outcomes that this emergency brought to light. A total of 532 valid surveys were collected during the study period. Lombardy and Lazio had the major answer rate. 96% of responders noticed a decrease in surgical emergencies. The outbreak affected regions and hospitals in different ways depending on the local incidence of infection. Half of responders modified their approach to intra-abdominal infections towards a more conservative treatment. 43% of responders, mainly in the North, were shifted to assist non-surgical patients. There has been a direct but non-homogeneous involvement of emergency surgeons. Almost all hospitals have responded with specific pathways and training. Both emergency surgery and trauma activity have changed and generally decreased but the majority of surgeons have operated on suspected COVID-19 patients.
Keywords: Acute care surgery; COVID-19; Emergency; Healthcare workers; Outbreak; Pandemic.