Restarting elective endoscopy safely amidst an evolving pandemic and the impact of patient perception

Christopher Nguyen, Kevin T. Kline, Shehzad Merwat, Sheharyar Merwat, Gurinder Luthra, Sreeram Parupudi, Steven Cohn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: The COVID-19 pandemic has led to disruptions in elective and outpatient procedures. Guidance from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services provided a framework for gradual reopening of outpatient clinical operations. As the infrastructure to restart endoscopy has been more clearly described, patient concerns regarding viral transmission during the procedure have been identified. Moreover, the efficacy of the measures in preventing transmission have not been clearly delineated. Methods: We identified patients with pandemic-related procedure cancellations from 3/16/2020 to 4/20/2020. Patients were stratified into tier groups (1–4) by urgency. Procedures were performed using our hospital risk mitigation strategies to minimize transmission risk. Patients who subsequently developed symptoms or tested for COVID-19 were recorded. Results: Among patients requiring emergent procedures, 57.14% could be scheduled at their originally intended interval. COVID-19 concerns represented the most common rescheduling barrier. No patients who underwent post-procedure testing were positive for COVID-19. No cases of endoscopy staff transmission were identified. Conclusions: Non-COVID-19 related patient care during the pandemic is a challenging process that evolved with the spread of infection, requiring dynamic monitoring and protocol optimization. We describe our successful model for reopening endoscopy suites using a tier-based system for safe reintroduction of elective procedures while minimizing transmission to patients and staff. Important barriers included financial and transmission concerns that need to be addressed to enable the return to pre-pandemic utilization of elective endoscopic procedures.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number344
JournalBMC Gastroenterology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2021


  • COVID-19
  • Endoscopy
  • Pandemic
  • Patient perception
  • Re-opening

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gastroenterology


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