Tracheostomy and Improvement in Utilization of Hospital Resources During SARS-CoV-2 Pandemic Surge.

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Surgical technology international


2019-nCoV; california; JWCI


The SARS-CoV-2 pandemic has affected millions across the world. Significant patient surges have caused severe resource allocation challenges in personal protective equipment, medications, and staffing. The virus produces bilateral lung infiltrates causing significant oxygen depletion and respiratory failure thus increasing the need for ventilators. The patients who require ventilation are often requiring prolonged ventilation and depleting hospital resources. Tracheostomy is often utilized in patients requiring prolonged ventilation, and early tracheostomy in critical care patients has been shown in some studies to improve a variety of factors including intensive care unit (ICU) length of stay, ventilation weaning, and decreased sedation medication utilization. In a patient surge setting, as long as adequate personal protective equipment (PPE) is available to minimize spread to healthcare workers, early tracheostomy may be a beneficial management of these patients. Decreasing sedative medication utilization may help prevent shortages in future waves of infection and improve patient-provider communication as patients are more alert. Tracheostomy care is easier than endotracheal intubation and may have decreased viral aerosolization risk, particularly if repeat intubation is necessary after a weaning trial. Additionally, tracheostomy patients can be monitored with less staff, decreasing total healthcare worker exposure to infection. To manage risk of exposure, coordination of ventilation controlled by an anesthesiologist or a critical care physician with a surgeon during the procedure can minimize aerosolization to the team. Risk management and resource allocation is of the utmost importance in any global crisis and procedures must be appropriately planned and benefits to patients, as well as minimized exposure to healthcare providers, must be considered. Early tracheostomy could be a beneficial procedure for severe SARS-CoV-2 patients to minimize long-term virus aerosolization and exposure for healthcare workers while decreasing sedation, allowing for earlier transfer out of the ICU, and improving hospital resource utilization.

Clinical Institute

Cardiovascular (Heart)






Infectious Diseases