Sriram Rao, Justin Glavis-Bloom, David Kakish, Karen Tran-Harding, Daniel S Chow, Michael Nguyentat, Eric O Yeates, Jeffry Nahmias, Roozbeh Houshyar
Emerg Radiol . 2023 Feb;30(1):27-32. doi: 10.1007/s10140-022-02096-4. Epub 2022 Oct 29.
Purpose: The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has led to substantial disruptions in healthcare staffing and operations. Stay-at-home (SAH) orders and limitations in social gathering implemented in spring 2020 were followed by initial decreases in healthcare and imaging utilization. This study aims to evaluate the impact of subsequent easing of SAH on trauma volumes, demand for, and turnaround times for trauma computed tomography (CT) exams, hypothesizing that after initial decreases, trauma volumes have increased as COVID safety measures have been reduced.
Methods: Patient characteristics, CT imaging volumes, and turnaround time were analyzed for all adult activated emergency department trauma patients requiring CT imaging at a single Level-I trauma center (1/2018-2/2022) located in the sixth most populous county in the USA. Based on COVID safety measures in place in the state of California, three time periods were compared: baseline (PRE, 1/1/2018-3/19/2020), COVID safety measures (COVID, 3/20/2020-1/25/2021), and POST (1/26/2021-2/28/2022).
Results: There were 16,984 trauma patients across the study (PRE = 8289, COVID = 3139, POST = 5556). The average daily trauma patient volumes increased significantly in the POST period compared to the PRE and COVID periods (13.9 vs. 10.3 vs. 10.1, p < 0.001), with increases in both blunt (p < 0.001) and penetrating (p = 0.002) trauma. The average daily number of trauma CT examinations performed increased significantly in the POST period compared to the PRE and COVID periods (56.7 vs. 48.3 vs. 47.6, p < 0.001), with significant increases in average turnaround time (47 min vs. 31 and 37, p < 0.001).
Conclusion: After initial decreases in trauma radiology volumes following stay-at-home orders, subsequent easing of safety measures has coincided with increases in trauma imaging volumes above pre-pandemic levels and longer exam turnaround times.