Changes in Burn Surgery Operative Volume and Metrics due to COVID-19

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date



Journal of burn care & research : official publication of the American Burn Association




COVID; burn surgery; operating room metrics; operative volume


Due to COVID-19, hospitals underwent drastic changes to operating room policy to mitigate the spread of the disease. Given these unprecedented measures, we aimed to look at the changes in operative volume and metrics of the burn surgery service at our institution. A retrospective review was conducted for operative cases and metrics for the months of March to May for 2019, 2020, and 2021, which correspond with pre-COVID, early COVID (period without elective cases), and late COVID (period with resumed elective cases). Inclusion criteria were cases related to burns. Case types and operative metrics were compared amongst the three time periods. Compared to the hospital, the burn service had a smaller decrease in volume during early COVID (28.7% vs. 50.1%) and exceeded pre-pandemic volumes during late COVID (+21.8% vs. -4.6%). There was a significant increase in excision and grafting cases in early and late COVID periods (p < .0001 and p < .002). There was a significant decrease in laser scar procedures that persisted even during late COVID (p < .0001). The projected and actual lengths of cases significantly increased and persisted into late COVID (p < .01). COVID-19 related operating room closures led to an expected decrease in the number of operative cases. However, there was no significant decline in the number of burn specific cases. The elective cases were largely replaced with excision and grafting cases and this shift has persisted even after elective cases have resumed. This change is also reflected in increased operative times.


School of Medicine and Health Sciences Resident Works