Objective(s): To analyze changes in tracheotomy practices at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, and determine if quality patient care was maintained. Methods: This was a single institution retrospective study that included patients undergoing tracheotomy from May 2019 to January 2021. Patients were divided into two groups, pre-COVID and post-COVID. Only three patients tested positive for COVID-19, and they were excluded from the study. Data were collected from the electronic medical record. Statistical analyses were performed using 2-tailed independent t tests, Wilcoxon Rank Sum tests, Chi-Square tests, and Kaplan–Meier curves. Results: There were 118 patients in the pre-COVID group and 91 patients in the post-COVID group. The main indication for tracheotomy in both groups was prolonged intubation. There were no significant differences in overall length of stay, time to tracheotomy, duration of tracheotomy procedure, or time to initial tracheotomy change between the two groups. Due to protocols implemented at our institution to limit viral transmission, there were significant increases in the percent of tracheotomies performed in the OR (p =.02), and those performed via open technique (p =.04). Additionally, the median time to decannulation significantly decreased in the post-COVID group (p =.02). Conclusion: Several variables regarding the timing of patient care showed no significant differences between groups which demonstrates that quality patient care was maintained. It is important to note that this data was collected early in the Pandemic, and additional trends may become apparent over time. Level of evidence: 4.
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