Vaccinated Americans more likely to choose surgery in outpatient setting with vaccinated staff

During a pandemic, such as COVID-19, Americans are more likely to pursue surgery if they are vaccinated, the hospital staff is vaccinated, the surgery is urgent, and the surgery is conducted in an outpatient setting, a study published in Vaccine found. 

The University of Chicago and Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach, Fla., surveyed 2,006 adults about a hypothetical surgery, according to a May 31 press release from the American Society of Anesthesiologists. Participants were given hypothetical surgery situations during a viral pandemic that assessed willingness to undergo surgery, considering factors such as urgency, time spent in the hospital, their own vaccination status, and preference between a hospital with required universal vaccination versus no requirement.

The variable that affected the participants' willingness to undergo surgery was urgency, i.e., lifesaving surgery compared to elective. Participants were more willing to undergo outpatient surgery than inpatient surgery.

Participants who were vaccinated were more willing to have surgery versus those unvaccinated. Approximately one-fourth of patients (24 percent) were unwilling to undergo lifesaving surgery if the hospital didn't require staff vaccination, and the number decreased to 15 percent if the hospital did require universal vaccination. 

"Making the choice to not have surgery for an actual health problem could increase the risk of potential illness and disease attributable to pandemic-related fears," Anna Clebone Ruskin, MD, study co-author and associate professor of anesthesia and critical care at the University of Chicago, said in the press release. "Our study reveals that people have real fears about acquiring an infectious disease in the hospital if they need surgery during a global pandemic."

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