Updated guideline on surgical patient safety and COVID-19

04 August 2022

Read our updated guideline on surgical patient safety for SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) infection and vaccination, with a minor update on intraoperative vaccination.

We’re pleased to announce the third edition of our professional document PG68(A) Guideline on surgical patient safety for SARS-CoV-2 infection and vaccination.

This frequently updated "living guideline" document provides up-to-date advice to our fellows, trainees and specialist international medical graduates on navigating surgical patient safety concerns in the rapidly changing environment of the SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) pandemic.

This third edition is a minor update containing new information on intraoperative vaccination, and elaborating on previous advice to consider postoperative vaccination. It's based on feedback from fellows and new information from the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation's (ATAGI's) advice on use of sedation for COVID-19 vaccination.

Key points we're advising:

  • Wait two weeks after major surgery for SARS-CoV-2 vaccination.
  • Vaccination can be offered during or immediately after minor surgery, for those patients who are not acutely unwell.
  • Postoperative vaccination may be indicated for patients who are at risk of being lost to followup.
  • Intraoperative vaccination may be indicated for patients who struggle to tolerate receiving a vaccination, such as those with needle phobia, or behavioural or anxiety disorders.
  • In all cases, the risks and benefits should be weighed up during shared decision-making with the patient.

For the full advice, please see the updated section 5.1.2 in the guideline document.

As always, this guideline is a "living" document that will continue to be updated. Before making use of it, please check you have the latest version via the college website.

Thank you to the SARS-CoV-2 Surgery Guideline Working Group members Dr Vanessa Beavis, ANZCA President 2020-2022, past ANZCA President Professor David A Scott, Perioperative Medicine Special Interest Group Chair Dr Jill Van Acker, Dr Joreline (Jay) Van Der Westhuizen, and ANZCA’s representative on the National COVID-19 Clinical Evidence Taskforce, National Guidelines Leadership Group, Professor Paul Myles.

We invite suggestions and contributions for future versions, via email to sq@anzca.edu.au.

Last updated 15:24 4.08.2022