Evolving Management of COVID-19: A Multi-institutional Otolaryngology Perspective

Johanna L. Wickemeyer, Kathleen R. Billings, Taher S. Valika*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Objective: To provide evolving information on active protocols regarding inpatient, outpatient, procedural, and surgical case management taking place in otolaryngology practices in response to COVID-19. Study Type: Cross-sectional multi-institutional survey. Methods: An online survey of 55 otolaryngology departments across North America. Results: As of March 25, 2020, almost all (n = 53 of 55, 96.3%) otolaryngology departments had canceled elective cases and were performing only urgent consults. Most residents continued to participate in operative cases (n = 45 of 49, 91.8%) and take call (n = 48 of 50, 96.0%). Of the respondents, 27 of 29 (93.1%) stated that they were deferring nonemergent tracheostomy procedures for the time being. The use of personal protective equipment followed a general trend of an increasing level of protection with an increased risk of the procedure; most (n = 49 of 54, 90.7%) incorporated N95 mask usage for bedside/clinic examinations with flexible laryngoscopy. Powered air-purifying respirators and N95 masks were used mainly for procedures involving the mucosal surfaces. Discussion: Due to the high viral density in the nasal cavity and nasopharynx of patients with COVID-19, basic examinations and common otolaryngology procedures place practitioners at high risk of exposure. Although there is variability in practice among otolaryngologists across North America in managing the COVID-19 outbreak, most are primarily seeing urgent ambulatory and inpatient consultations. Most are also incorporating personal protective equipment appropriate to the level of transmission across mucous membranes. Implications for Practice: In these rapidly evolving times, it is helpful to find solidarity and assurance among health care providers. Current data aimed to provide (1) perceived methods regarding the safe care of otolaryngology patients and (2) updated practice patterns at a national level.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)259-264
Number of pages6
JournalOtolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery (United States)
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 1 2020


  • COVID-19
  • otolaryngology
  • quality improvement

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Otorhinolaryngology


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