COVID-19 – Changes in Workload and Clinical Practice in Trauma and Orthopaedics in a District General Hospital in the United Kingdom
Introduction: COVID-19 has had a significant impact on the entire health system. The trauma and orthopaedic service has been compelled to alter working practices to respond proactively and definitively to the crisis. The aim of this study is to summarise the impact of this outbreak on the trauma and orthopaedic workload and outline the response of the department.
Materials and Methods: We retrospectively collected data comparing patient numbers pre-COVID-19, and prospectively during the early COVID-19 pandemic. We have collected the numbers and nature of outpatient orthopaedic attendances to fracture clinics and elective services, inpatient admissions and the number of fracture neck of femur operations performed.
Results: The number of outpatient attendances for a musculoskeletal complaint to Accident and Emergency and the number of virtual fracture clinic reviews reduced by almost 50% during COVID-19. The number of face-to-face fracture clinic follow-ups decreased by around 67%, with a five-fold increase in telephone consultations. Inpatient admissions decreased by 33%, but the average number of fracture neck of femur operations performed has increased by 20% during COVID-19 compared to pre-COVID-19 levels.
Conclusion: We have noted a decrease in some aspects of the trauma and orthopaedic outpatient workload, such as leisure and occupational-related injuries but an increase in others, such as fracture neck of femurs. Many injuries have significantly reduced in numbers and we consider that a model could be developed for treating these injuries away from the acute hospital site entirely, thereby allowing the acute team to focus more appropriate major trauma injuries.
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