Assessing the impact of COVID-19 on the management of patients with liver diseases: A national survey by the Italian association for the study of the Liver

Dig Liver Dis. 2020 Jul 10;S1590-8658(20)30342-X. doi: 10.1016/j.dld.2020.07.008. Online ahead of print.


Background: The COVID-19 pandemic had a huge impact on national and regional health systems. The impact of SARS-CoV-2 on the quality of care for patients with liver disease is still unknown.

Aims: The Italian Association for the Study of the Liver (AISF) conducted a survey to assess the impact of SARS-CoV-2 on hepatology units activities in Italy.

Methods: A prospective web-based survey was proposed to all AISF active members. The survey was available online from April 8 2020, to May 3 2020, (lockdown phase in Italy).

Results: 194 AISF members answered the questionnaire, most of whom were specialists in Gastroenterology (41%) or Internal Medicine (28%), and worked in Northern Italy (51%). 26% of hepatology wards had been converted into COVID-19 wards, and 33% had bed reductions. All hepatological activities, including the management of patients with decompensated liver disease, liver transplant and HCC had been significantly reduced/stopped. The number of physicians answering that their practices had not been modified ranged between 0.6% (for chronic hepatitis) to 47% (for the execution of paracentesis). The recorded answers were consistent among different regions, and did not show any north-south gradient CONCLUSION: COVID-19 outbreak significantly impacted on hepatological clinical activity. This survey can serve as a basis to compare the impact of future measures aimed at delivering an acceptable level of liver care during a national pandemic or crisis.

Keywords: Covid-19; Hepatology; SARS COV-2.