Postponed hip, knee and eye operations ‘cost’ 320,000 years of healthy life


Postponed operations during the coronavirus pandemic have ‘cost’ the equivalent of 320,000 years of healthy life, says the Dutch public health institute RIVM.

It has calculated that more than 305,000 operations were put off during 2020 and 2021, leading to a loss of healthy years of life that can ‘never be regained’.

Every year, hospitals in the Netherlands plan around 900,000 operations which are not considered an emergency and can wait at least a month. Most of the postponed operations that were not achieved by the end of December 2021 were for cataracts, hip and knee replacements.

‘The total loss of health is probably greater because not all forms of health have been counted,’ said the RIVM in a press release. ‘For example, delayed diagnoses and clinic-based care.’

The service recommends increasing operations by 5% until the end of 2026 in order to catch up, although this may be limited by personnel capacity. The research is expected to feed into calculations for any future crisis situation.

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