The coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic, caused by the novel coronavirus severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2, has resulted in worldwide disruption to the delivery of patient care. The Seattle, Washington metropolitan area was one of the first in the United States affected by the pandemic. As a result, the anatomic pathology services at the University of Washington experienced significant changes in operational volumes early in the pandemic.
To assess the impact of coronavirus disease 2019 and both state and institutional policies implemented to mitigate viral transmission (including institutional policies on nonurgent procedures) on anatomic pathology volumes.
Accessioned specimens from January to June 2020 were evaluated as coronavirus disease 2019 and institutional policies changed. The data were considered in these contexts: subspecialty, billable Current Procedural Terminology codes, and intraoperative consultation. Comparable data were retrieved from 2019 as a historical control.
There was a significant reduction in overall accessioned volume (up to 79%) from prepandemic levels during bans on nonurgent procedures when compared with 2020 pre-coronavirus disease 2019 volumes and historical controls. The gastrointestinal and dermatopathology services were most impacted, and breast and combined head and neck/pulmonary services were least impacted. Current Procedural Terminology code 88305, for smaller/biopsy specimens, had a 63% reduction during nonurgent procedure bans. After all bans on procedures were lifted, the overall volume plateaued at 89% of prepandemic levels.
A significant decrease in specimen volume was most strongly associated with bans on nonurgent procedures. Although all departmental areas had a decrease in volume, the extent of change varied across subspecialty and specimen types. Even with removal of all bans, service volume did not reach prepandemic levels.