COVID-19 has changed the practice of orthopaedics across the globe. The medical workforce has dealt with this outbreak with varying strategies and adaptations, which are relevant to its field and to the region. As one of the ‘hotspots’ in the UK , the surgical branch of trauma and orthopaedics need strategies to adapt to the ever-changing landscape of COVID-19.
Adapting to the crisis locally involved five operational elements: 1) triaging and workflow of orthopaedic patients; 2) operation theatre feasibility and functioning; 3) conservation of human resources and management of workforce in the department; 4) speciality training and progression; and 5) developing an exit strategy to resume elective work. Two hospitals under our trust were redesignated based on the treatment of COVID-19 patients. Registrar/consultant led telehealth reviews were carried out for early postoperative patients. Workflows for the management of outpatient care and inpatient care were created. We looked into the development of a dedicated operating space to perform the emergency orthopaedic surgeries without symptoms of COVID-19. Between March 23 and April 23, 2020, we have surgically treated 133 patients across both our hospitals in our trust. This mainly included hip fractures and fractures/infection affecting the hand.
The COVID-19 pandemic is not the first disease outbreak affecting the UK, nor will it be the last. The current crisis has necessitated rapid development of new hospital guidelines and early adaptive strategies in our services. Protocols and directives need to be formalized keeping in mind that COVID-19 will have a long and protracted course until a definitive cure is discovered.
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