Pediatric surgical wait priority score (pSWAPS): modifying a health system's adult-based elective surgery prioritization system for children's surgery during the COVID-19 pandemic


Department of Surgery, Advocate Children's Hospital


BACKGROUND: With the rise of COVID-19 cases, societies recommended canceling all elective surgical procedures because of perioperative concerns, transmission risk, and the need to divert resources. Once the number of cases stabilized, there was recognition that a system was needed to triage and prioritize scheduling operations.

METHODS: A universal scoring system to triage surgical elective cases was developed for the Advocate Aurora Health system (Surgical Wait Priority Score, SWAPS) and was modified for use in pediatrics (pSWAPS). Resource-related, patient-related, and case urgency factors were used to create the overall score. Interrater reliability of ten cases was determined by four surgeons' scores and calculating Fleiss' Kappa coefficient. The system has been used for two months at two operating rooms with different resource restrictions with the goal of prioritizing elective cases.

RESULTS: 18 factors were identified as significant contributors to the pWAPS creating a cumulative score ranging from 0 to 120. In the first month, 61 and 99 procedures were screened at the Oak Lawn (OL) and Park Ridge (PR) campuses respectively, and in the second month, 94 (OL) and 135 (PR) procedures were evaluated. The average pSWAPS scores were 37.9 at OL and 54.3 at PR. All cases that had scores within the immediate group were scheduled and completed.

CONCLUSION: The pSWAPS system is a simple, flexible scoring system that takes into consideration resource constraints. pSWAPS has been used for two months. It has served as an effective tool for safe and methodical reintroduction of elective procedures during the COVID-19 pandemic and could be used again for another surge.

LEVEL OF EVIDENCE: prognosis study, level of evidence - 4.

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