COVID-19 screening for elective surgery patients

13 June 2020

ANZCA fellow and anaesthesia researcher Professor Paul Myles is playing a lead role in a new COVID-19 research project with ANZCA’s Clinical Trials Network and Monash University.

Thousands of Australians undergoing surgery will have nasal swab and blood samples taken while under anaesthetic to screen them for coronavirus amid mounting international evidence those infected with COVID-19 are at heightened risk of dying post-operatively.
About 3000 patients will be tested for evidence of the virus or antibodies that indicate previous infection over the next six weeks after a national elective surgery taskforce was established with testing sites at 14 public and private hospitals across Australia.

Testing sites include The Alfred and Epworth hospitals and Monash Medical Centre in Melbourne.

The federal government-funded taskforce was established in the wake of a major global study of 1128 elective surgery patients across 24 countries between 1 January and 31 March.

For patients with COVID-19, who underwent elective surgery including minor procedures, the death rate was almost 19 per cent, the study found.

The study led by researchers at Birmingham University in the United Kingdom examined data from hospitals mainly in Europe and America which are battling ongoing deadly coronavirus outbreaks.

More than two-thirds of these patients were diagnosed with coronavirus post-operatively, researchers found. About one in four of the patients died within 30 days of surgery.

The findings were published in medical journal The Lancet late last month.

Last updated 09:07 30.06.2020