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AHHA CALLS FOR BETTER COVID-19 DOCUMENTING

New Australian research on COVID-19 screening of hospital patients during the first wave of the pandemic found that the documentation of patient screen procedures before surgery could be improved.

The COVID Screen Audit study has been published in Australian Health Review, the journal of the Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Associations (AHHA).

Research team leader and professor at the University of Melbourne, David Story, said the study analysed the admission records of 2,197 patients who underwent elective and non-elective surgery at two major Melbourne hospitals between 1 April and 10 May 2020.

“Despite the national imperative to screen for COVID and communicate the results, the documenting of COVID-19 screening fell short of our proposed lower acceptable limited on 85% in almost all surgical groups,” Professor Story said.

“We are not saying screening wasn’t done – that that the information wasn’t readily available for clinical teams caring for some patients.

“The percentages of surgery patients observed to have had both COVID-19 screening and temperature documented could be improved, from 72% among elective patients and 38% among non-elective patients.”

The study found that documenting screening varied markedly across surgical groups. In particular, it found that non-elective surgical patients had the lowest rate of documenting and also the highest rate of COVID-19 related history and signs.

Identifying surgical patients with SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19 disease is important for several reasons, including that patients with COVID-19 may have more complications and greater mortality after surgery. COVID-19 may also further increase the already increased risk for complications and mortality among non-elective patients.

Professor Story added that the results of the COVID Screen Audit were likely to apply to other Australian hospitals, and noted both hospital had instituted far more rigorous documenting during Victoria’s second wave of the pandemic.

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