Influence of the pandemic dissemination of COVID-19 on radiotherapy practice: A flash survey in Germany, Austria and Switzerland

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Background The COVID-19 pandemic has already changed our globalised world and its long-term impact is not yet known. It is apparent that businesses and institutions are increasingly affected. COVID-19 discussions often focus on intensive care units in hospitals. However, COVID-19 also effects life-saving and -prolonging radiotherapy for patients suffering from cancer. Method We have conducted a structured online survey among medical physicists in Germany, Austria and Switzerland from March 23rd to 26th 2020. In total 154 responses (82 completed, 72 partially completed) were analysed in the context of the COVID-19 dissemination. Results 72.4% of the respondent’s state that their processes are affected due to COVID-19, while the top three answers are longer processing times (54.2%), patient no-shows (42.5%) and staff reduction (36.7%). 75.8% expect further unavailability of their personnel in the upcoming weeks. All participants have already taken several measures, especially providing information for patients at the entrance (89.6%) or over the phone (73.6%), restricting access for accompanying persons (77.4%) and providing disinfectant at the entrance (72.6%). Discussion The results presented in this article aim to support business continuity and risk management for radiotherapy centres to prepare for future challenges. The results show that most radiotherapy centres has implemented initial contingency measures, applying them pragmatically. The main problem however remains, that is the high risk of infection both for patients and medical personnel along with the associated risk of temporarily loss of personnel and ordered closure of business.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0233330
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number5
Number of pages17
Publication statusPublished - 21.05.2020