ObjectiveThe coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has had widespread implications on clinical practice at U.S. hospitals. These changes are particularly relevant to otolaryngology-head and neck surgery (OHNS) residents because reports suggest an increased risk of contracting COVID-19 for otolaryngologists. The objectives of this study were to evaluate OHNS residency program practice changes and characterize resident perceptions during the initial phase of the pandemic.
Study designA cross-sectional survey of U.S. OHNS residents at 81 programs was conducted between March 23, 2020, and March 29, 2020.
ResultsEighty-two residents from 51 institutions (63% of invited programs) responded. At the time of survey, 98% of programs had enacted policy changes to minimize COVID-19 spread. These included filtered respirator use for aerosol-generating procedures even in COVID-19-negative patients (85%), decreased resident staffing of surgeries (70%), and reduced frequency of tracheotomy care (61%). The majority of residents (66%) perceived that residents were at higher risk of contracting COVID-19 compared to attendings. Residents were most concerned about protective equipment shortage (93%) and transmitting COVID-19 to patients (90%). The majority of residents (73%) were satisfied with their department's COVID-19 response. Resident satisfaction correlated with comfort level in discussing concerns with attendings (r = 0.72, P < .00001) and inversely correlated with perceptions of increased risk compared to attendings (r = -0.52, P < .00001).
ConclusionU.S. OHNS residency programs implemented policy changes quickly in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Sources of resident anxieties demonstrate the importance of open communication and an integrated team approach to facilitate optimal patient and provider care during this unprecedented crisis.
Level of evidence4. Laryngoscope, 130:2550-2557, 2020.