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Consensus-based perioperative protocols during the COVID-19 pandemic.



During the COVID-19 pandemic, quaternary-care facilities continue to provide care for patients in need of urgent and emergent invasive procedures. Perioperative protocols are needed to streamline care for these patients notwithstanding capacity and resource constraints.


A multidisciplinary panel was assembled at the University of California, San Francisco, with 26 leaders across 10 academic departments, including 7 department chairpersons, the chief medical officer, the chief operating officer, infection control officers, nursing leaders, and resident house staff champions. An epidemiologist, an ethicist, and a statistician were also consulted. A modified two-round, blinded Delphi method based on 18 agree/disagree statements was used to build consensus. Significant disagreement for each statement was tested using a one-sided exact binomial test against an expected outcome of 95% consensus using a significance threshold of p < 0.05. Final triage protocols were developed with unblinded group-level discussion.


Overall, 15 of 18 statements achieved consensus in the first round of the Delphi method; the 3 statements with significant disagreement (p < 0.01) were modified and iteratively resubmitted to the expert panel to achieve consensus. Consensus-based protocols were developed using unblinded multidisciplinary panel discussions. The final algorithms 1) quantified outbreak level, 2) triaged patients based on acuity, 3) provided a checklist for urgent/emergent invasive procedures, and 4) created a novel scoring system for the allocation of personal protective equipment. In particular, the authors modified the American College of Surgeons three-tiered triage system to incorporate more urgent cases, as are often encountered in neurosurgery and spine surgery.


Urgent and emergent invasive procedures need to be performed during the COVID-19 pandemic. The consensus-based protocols in this study may assist healthcare providers to optimize perioperative care during the pandemic.

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