The dataviz shows the percentage of surgical interventions postponed between March 1st and April 30th, 2020, recorded by Pazienti dimenticati, and the incidence of infections per 100 thousand inhabitants, calculated on Protezione civile’s data. In general, the lower a point is, the higher the percentage of postponed surgeries, the further to the right, the greater the incidence of infections. The points in pink are those for which the percentage is calculated on actual postponements, those in gray are those for which the calculation was made on the basis of the interventions carried out in the same period of 2019.
As you can see by looking at the graph, there is no correlation between the percentage of referrals and the incidence of infections. The Oglio Po hospital, in the province of Cremona, has reduced surgical interventions by 97.6%, in an area with an incidence of 1,636 cases per 100 thousand inhabitants during the period considered. Don Tonino Bello hospital in Molfetta, in the province of Bari, reduced the interventions by a similar percentage (97.3%), but in these parts the Sars-CoV-2 positives were only 107 per 100 thousand inhabitants, just 6% of those seen in the Cremona area. The Ministry of Health, however, imposed a stop based on urgency rather than the contagion spread.
“For serious pathologies, such as oncological ones, and for urgent interventions, hub hospitals have worked. Then there are interventions on very elderly people who in normal conditions would have been performed and who instead have been postponed, which can have a minimal part contributed to the increase in mortality recorded by Istat“, explains Lorenzo Menicanti, Director of the Heart-adult surgical area and Scientific Director at the Irccs Policlinico San Donato in Milan. In a context such as that of the lockdown in which “the literature records a decline in the number of heart attacks and strokes”, there are also those who, despite having symptoms, chose not to go to hospital for fear of contagion. “In our center we are aware of 5% of patients who preferred to live with the symptoms rather than be hospitalized, but making a national estimate is not possible because there is no comprehensive database”. It is no coincidence that the government plans to use 1.67 billion euros from the Next Generation EU funds to enhance the technological infrastructure and tools for data collection, processing and analysis. The recovery of the postponed interventions, Dr. Menicanti concludes, “took us from three to four months”.