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SAMJ: South African Medical Journal

versão On-line ISSN 2078-5135
versão impressa ISSN 0256-9574

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CHU, K M et al. Establishing a South African national framework for COVID-19 surgical prioritisation. SAMJ, S. Afr. med. j. [online]. 2021, vol.111, n.4. ISSN 2078-5135.  http://dx.doi.org/10.7196/samj.2021.v111i5.15603.

BACKGROUND: Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, surgical operations have been drastically reduced in South Africa (SA). Guidelines on surgical prioritisation during COVID-19 have been published, but are specific to high-income countries. There is a pressing need for context-specific guidelines and a validated tool for prioritising surgical cases during the COVID-19 pandemic. In March 2020, the South African National Surgical Obstetric Anaesthesia Plan Task Team was asked by the National Department of Health to establish a national framework for COVID-19 surgical prioritisation.OBJECTIVES: To develop a national framework for COVID-19 surgical prioritisation, including a set of recommendations and a risk calculator for operative care.METHODS: The surgical prioritisation framework was developed in three stages: (i) a literature review of international, national and local recommendations on COVID-19 and surgical care was conducted; (ii) a set of recommendations was drawn up based on the available literature and through consensus of the COVID-19 Task Team; and (iii) a COVID-19 surgical risk calculator was developed and evaluated.RESULTS: A total of 30 documents were identified from which recommendations around prioritisation of surgical care were used to draw up six recommendations for preoperative COVID-19 screening and testing as well as the use of appropriate personal protective equipment. Ninety-nine perioperative practitioners from eight SA provinces evaluated the COVID-19 surgical risk calculator, which had high acceptability and a high level of concordance (81%) with current clinical practice.CONCLUSIONS: This national framework on COVID-19 surgical prioritisation can help hospital teams make ethical, equitable and personalised decisions whether to proceed with or delay surgical operations during this unprecedented epidemic.

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