Publication Date



SARS-CoV-2 testing, COVID-19, procedure, surgery, hospitalization, patient safety, health care delivery, clinical management


The COVID-19 pandemic led to a nationwide shutdown of elective medical procedures. Upon resumption of services, preprocedure nasopharyngeal swab testing for severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) was introduced for all patients requiring surgical or other aerosol-generating procedures. We investigated preprocedure COVID-19 testing in one of the largest U.S. health systems. Patients included in this retrospective, observational study were asymptomatic and scheduled for a procedure or surgery. All patients underwent a nasopharyngeal swab test for SARS-CoV-2 performed 24–72 hours prior to a planned procedure. Clinical demographics, type of procedure, test results, and subsequent procedure status were evaluated. Of 38,608 total patients, there were 277 COVID-19–positive patients (positivity rate: 0.72%). Of those 277, 244 (88%) had procedural delays or cancellations. Of the COVID-19–negative patients, 50 (0.13%) required later hospitalization for COVID-19. Median time from preprocedure negative test to admission was 46.3 ± 27.2 days. In the largest series published on preprocedure COVID-19 testing in the early phase of the pandemic, preprocedure COVID-19 positivity was low. Preprocedure COVID-19 testing had a significant impact on clinical management. Rate of COVID-19 cases requiring hospitalization in the months following the procedure was negligible, suggesting health system policies adequately protected patient safety.




January 15th, 2021


February 15th, 2021


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