Covid-19 patients have a higher risk of in-hospital morbidity and mortality after surgery

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  • Covid-19-positive patients have a considerably higher risk of death after surgery 
  • The study assessed both Covid-19-positive and -negative patients who underwent an operation
  • The researchers recommend that surgery be postponed in Covid-19-positive patients if feasible

Covid-19 infection increases patients' chances of death post-surgery, new research has found. The study published in JAMA Network Open  assessed the risk of Covid-19 patients’ in-hospital morbidity and mortality after operations and compared them with patients without Covid-19.

How the study was conducted 

The researchers sampled patients who were 18 years and older, with and without Covid-19, who underwent surgery from 1 April to 30 November 2020.

A total of 5 470 surgical patients with positive Covid-19 test results were matched with 5 470 surgical patients who tested negative during the same study period to establish a one-on-one ratio.

Researchers then compared patient safety indicators, hospital-acquired conditions, and length of stay between the cohorts. 

Post-operation risk of death 

The findings show that the overall mortality rate in those with Covid-19 was more than double than in the group without Covid-19. About 14.8% of the infected patients died, while only 7.1% without the virus passed away.

“Our study findings suggest that Covid-19 infection positivity is an independent risk factor for surgical mortality,” the paper reads.

“As the Covid-19 pandemic continues and surges, we need to balance patients’ surgical needs with Covid-19-specific risks in the setting of a strained healthcare system. Surgical patients with Covid-19 should be informed of their higher in-hospital mortality risk,” the study states.

The authors of the study, therefore, propose that people who test positive for Covid-19 before a planned procedure should have the operation postponed unless surgery is absolutely necessary for "life- or limb-saving measures".

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