Due to the large number of covid patients in intensive care units, normal operations can now no longer be maintained in more than three quarters of all hospitals in Germany - these hospitals have to postpone scheduled operations. This is reported by the German Hospital Association. The nursing staff needed to care for covid patients is lacking for the follow-up care of patients in an intensive care unit after a scheduled operation. The hospital association anticipates a further increase in deferrals as new corona infection rates remain high.
"The situation is really increasingly dramatic and also leads to physical and psychological stress for the affected patients in some of the discontinued treatments," the chairman of the board of the hospital society, Gerald Gaß, announced in Berlin. From the past waves one knows around the serious consequences for the patients. Orthopedic surgeries in particular are among the typical operations that can be planned. In the second pandemic wave from October 2020 to February 2021, 22 percent fewer hip prostheses were operated on. But restrictions also had to be made on cancer treatments, it said.
Evaluations showed, for example, that the number of cases of cancer surgery for breast cancer had fallen by six percent and for colon cancer by as much as 18 percent. Gerhard Achatz, deputy clinical director at the German Armed Forces Hospital in Ulm, warns that a later surgery date can have an impact on a patient's findings or chances of success. This is particularly the case with cancer patients, as studies have shown.
As Achatz reports, a large proportion of Covid patients are unvaccinated. He is convinced that the current situation at the hospitals need not be like this: "With the vaccine, we now have a way of getting the pandemic under control. But the vaccination rate is still too low."
In the view of Eugen Brysch, chairman of the Patient Protection Foundation, patients also face a legal gray area. The definition of scheduled operations is legally indeterminate and practically intangible, he complains. For example, there is no official list of medical interventions that can be postponed in the event of an impending overload. That, too, leads to great uncertainty among patients, Brysch says.
Image by Fernando Zhiminaicela