International Delphi Expert Consensus on Safe Return to Surgical and Endoscopic Practice: from the Coronavirus Global Surgical Collaborative

Ann Surg. 2020 Dec 29. doi: 10.1097/SLA.0000000000004674. Online ahead of print.

Abstract

Objective: The aim of this work is to formulate recommendations based on global expert consensus to guide the surgical community on the safe resumption of surgical and endoscopic activities.

Background: The COVID-19 pandemic has caused marked disruptions in the delivery of surgical care worldwide. A thoughtful, structured approach to resuming surgical services is necessary as the impact of COVID-19 becomes better controlled. The Coronavirus Global Surgical Collaborative (CVGSC) sought to formulate, through rigorous scientific methodology, a consensus-based recommendations in collaboration with a multidisciplinary group of international experts and policy makers.

Methods: Recommendations were developed following a Delphi process. Domain topics were formulated and subsequently subdivided into questions pertinent to different aspects of surgical care in the COVID-19 crisis. Forty-four experts from 15 countries across four continents drafted statements based on the specific questions. Anonymous Delphi voting on the statements was performed in two rounds, as well as in a telepresence meeting.

Results: One hundred statements were formulated across 10 domains. The statements addressed terminology, impact on procedural services, patient/staff safety, managing a backlog of surgeries, methods to restart and sustain surgical services, education, and research. Eightythree of the statements were approved during the first round of Delphi voting, and 11 during the second round. A final telepresence meeting and discussion yielded acceptance of five other statements.

Conclusions: The Delphi process resulted in 99 recommendations. These consensus statements provide expert guidance, based on scientific methodology, for the safe resumption of surgical activities during the COVID-19 pandemic.