National Trends in US Otolaryngology Surgical Volume During the Early COVID-19 Pandemic | Otolaryngology | JAMA Otolaryngology–Head & Neck Surgery | JAMA Network
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Research Letter
February 11, 2021

National Trends in US Otolaryngology Surgical Volume During the Early COVID-19 Pandemic

Author Affiliations
  • 1Department of Otolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, Maryland
JAMA Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2021;147(4):397-399. doi:10.1001/jamaoto.2020.5472

The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic resulted in tectonic shifts in the delivery of American health care, including surgical care. In the early days of the pandemic, the US Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) recommended that surgeons “postpone nonessential surgeries and other procedures,”1 a recommendation endorsed by the American Academy of Otolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery. Emergency declarations by many states to suspend elective procedures resulted in an abrupt cessation of surgery in the US in March 2020.2 We sought to describe the resulting changes in US otolaryngology surgical volumes surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic.

We used the claims-based Vizient Clinical Data Base/Resource Manager (CDB; Vizient, Inc), which included data from 609 hospitals representing 97% of US academic medical centers and 160 community hospitals, to evaluate temporal trends in surgical care. Institutional review board approval and informed consent were waived by Johns Hopkins University because of the study’s use of deidentified data. Otolaryngology surgeries recorded in the Vizient CDB from March 1, 2019, through September 30, 2020, were used for this study. Otolaryngology procedures performed following the suspension of elective surgery in March 2020 through September 2020 were compared with the same calendar month in 2019 (eMethods in the Supplement). Data analysis was completed in R, version 4.0.3 (R Foundation for Statistical Computing) using the ggplot2, maps, usmap, and tidyverse packages.

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