OBJECTIVE: The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has led to a global surge in critically ill patients requiring invasive mechanical ventilation, some of whom may benefit from tracheostomy. Decisions on if, when, and how to perform tracheostomy in patients with COVID-19 have major implications for patients, clinicians, and hospitals. We investigated the tracheostomy protocols and practices that institutions around the world have put into place in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.DATA SOURCES: Protocols for tracheostomy in patients with severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 infection from individual institutions (n = 59) were obtained from the United States and 25 other countries, including data from several low- and middle-income countries, 23 published or society-endorsed protocols, and 36 institutional protocols.REVIEW METHODS: The comparative document analysis involved cross-sectional review of institutional protocols and practices. Data sources were analyzed for timing of tracheostomy, contraindications, preoperative testing, personal protective equipment (PPE), surgical technique, and postoperative management.CONCLUSIONS: Timing of tracheostomy varied from 3 to >21 days, with over 90% of protocols recommending 14 days of intubation prior to tracheostomy. Most protocols advocate delaying tracheostomy until COVID-19 testing was negative. All protocols involved use of N95 or higher PPE. Both open and percutaneous techniques were reported. Timing of tracheostomy changes ranged from 5 to >30 days postoperatively, sometimes contingent on negative COVID-19 test results.IMPLICATIONS FOR PRACTICE: Wide variation exists in tracheostomy protocols, reflecting geographical variation, different resource constraints, and limited data to drive evidence-based care standards. Findings presented herein may provide reference points and a framework for evolving care standards.
View details for DOI 10.1177/0194599820961985
View details for PubMedID 33138722