Short-Term Effects of Canceled Elective Procedures Due to COVID-19

Evidence From the Veterans Affairs Healthcare System

Linda Diem Tran, PhD, MPP; Liam Rose, PhD; Tracy Urech, MPH; Aaron Dalton, MA, MSW; Siqi Wu, MPH; Anita A. Vashi, MD, MPH, MHS


Annals of Surgery. 2021;274(1):45-49. 

In This Article


This study gives evidence that elective procedure cancellation due to the COVID-19 pandemic was not associated with increased ED utilization or mortality in the VA. Although this is encouraging, the full cost of delayed and deferred surgical cases is not reflected in these outcomes, as longer-term outcomes and delays in diagnostic procedures likely add to the burden patients face. With projections of a cyclical relapsing of the virus, it is likely surgery will continue to be impacted. Although many questions remain, this analysis suggests surgical case triage and management has been effective in avoiding the most serious adverse outcomes that may have resulted from the surgical shutdown in the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic.