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Author Notes:


Acknowledgements: The participants of Team 9, who worked to develop this framework. Dr. Keith Delman, Dr. Angel Leon, Dr. Carrie Cwiak, Dr. Kenneth Ogan, and Dr. Grant Carlson.

No authors have financial disclosures, and no funding has been received specific to this work. Drs. Davis, Williford, Klopman, Sweeney, and Boden and Mr. Isenburg have no conflicts of interest or financial ties to disclose relative to this work.



  • Science & Technology
  • Life Sciences & Biomedicine
  • Surgery
  • Case
  • Adjudication
  • Time sensitive

A scalable tool for adjudication of time sensitive cases during COVID-19 pandemic


Journal Title:



Volume 35, Number 10


, Pages 5626-5634

Type of Work:

Article | Final Publisher PDF


Background: During the COVID-19 pandemic, prioritization of care and utilization of scarce resources are daily considerations in healthcare systems that have never experienced these issues before. Elective surgical cases have been largely postponed, and surgery departments are struggling to correctly and equitably determine which cases need to proceed. A resource to objectively prioritize and track time sensitive cases would be useful as an adjunct to clinical decision-making. Methods: A multidisciplinary working group at Emory Healthcare developed and implemented an adjudication tool for the prioritization of time sensitive surgeries. The variables identified by the team to form the construct focused on the patient’s survivability according to actuarial data, potential impact on function with delay in care, and high-level biology of disease. Implementation of the prioritization was accomplished with a database design to streamline needed communication between surgeons and surgical adjudicators. All patients who underwent time sensitive surgery between 4/10/20 and 6/15/20 across 5 campuses were included. Results: The primary outcomes of interest were calculated patient prioritization score and number of days until operation. 1767 cases were adjudicated during the specified time period. The distribution of prioritization scores was normal, such that real-time adjustment of the empiric algorithm was not required. On retrospective review, as the patient prioritization score increased, the number of days to the operating room decreased. This confirmed the functionality of the tool and provided a framework for organization across multiple campuses. Conclusions: We developed an in-house adjudication tool to aid in the prioritization of a large cohort of canceled and time sensitive surgeries. The tool is relatively simple in its design, reproducible, and data driven which allows for an objective adjunct to clinical decision-making. The database design was instrumental in communication optimization during this chaotic period for patients and surgeons.

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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2020

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