Dr. Robert Maxwell: COVID-19 rates especially high for anesthesia teams

Anesthesia teams are especially vulnerable to COVID-19 infection, according to Robert Maxwell, MD, a critical care and general surgeon whose statements were reported by the Chattanooga Times Free Press.

Dr. Maxwell practices at Chattanooga, Tenn.-based University Surgical Associates, which provides surgical services for Erlanger Health System, one of multiple major Chattanooga-area providers suspending elective surgeries.

After Erlanger announced the decision March 20 in a joint statement with CHI Memorial and Parkridge Health System, Dr. Maxwell explained multiple factors that were taken into consideration.

"Canceling elective surgery reduces the human interaction of potentially asymptomatic carriers infecting healthy people just by coming to the hospital," he said in a written statement to the Free Press. "Additionally, anesthesia teams have the highest incidence of COVID infection amongst healthcare workers, because of the exposure they receive when placing someone under anesthesia. Limiting this risk of asymptomatic exposure during elective surgery is imperative."

Esteemed anesthesiologist Dr. Greg Macasaet, who served on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic at Manila Doctors Hospital in the Philippines, died due to the disease March 22, according to the Manila Bulletin. His wife, who is also an anesthesiologist, reportedly tested positive for COVID-19.

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