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Dr.Ramlawi plays leading role in study on cardiac surgeons’ concerns about PPE during pandemic

Basel Ramlawi, MD, a clin

ical professor with Main Line Health’s Lankenau Institute for Medical Research (LIMR) as well as chief of cardiothoracic surgery at Main Line Health and co-director of the Lankenau Heart Institute, was a contributing author of a study finding greater availability of personal protective equipment (PPE) and better conservation practices are key to alleviating cardiac surgeons’ anxiety amid the COVID-19 pandemic.


Francis P. Sutter, DO, FACS, FACOS, chief of Cardiothoracic Surgery for Lankenau Medical Center, part of Main Line Health, was also among nearly 60 of the nation’s most distinguished cardiac surgeons listed as authors of the study, which surveyed physicians from 67 adult cardiac surgery institutions across North America.


The study found that 90% of respondents indicated a greater availability of PPE would help reduce their anxiety around the pandemic. The authors also called for reviewing the evidence and developing standardized guidelines regarding safe reuse of PPE during the current and future pandemics.


Recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) were in flux during the early stages of the pandemic. The CDC recommends that during crisis situations, N95 respiratory masks be used only during procedures generating aerosols (minute respiratory particles that are small and light enough to remain suspended in the air for long periods). But as shortages grew critical, the CDC recommended reuse of PPE that was intended for one-time use, and to resort to scarves or bandannas if necessary.

Nearly half (49%) of users of N95 respirators recycled them using ultraviolet light, followed by 13% using heat, and 12% doing sterilization at home or using other methods. Twenty-two percent of institutions asked physicians to reuse them for one day, followed by 21% requesting reuse for a week, and 6% for a month.


The survey had other important findings. Worries of cardiac surgeons were topped by exposing their family to COVID-19 (81%), followed by contracting the disease (68%), running out of PPE (28%) and concerns with hospital resources (28%).


The survey also found that among those on cardiac teams, nurses were the ones most likely to be redeployed to care for COVID-19 patients (88%), followed by advanced care practitioners (69%), trainees (28%) and surgeons (25%).


The study, "Cardiac surgeons' concerns, perceptions, and responses during the COVID-19 pandemic," was published earlier this month in the Journal of Cardiac Surgery. Physicians were surveyed over a 16-day period in spring 2020.



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