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COVID-19: What is going on in Spain now? What we should do as orthopaedic surgeons to be ready for the “COVID Tsunami”?

Oliver Marin-Peña
Orthopaedic Surgeon


I am an orthopaedic surgeon in Madrid and, for the first time in my life, I feel worried about a health problem.

Two weeks ago, we started with a couple of COVID-19 positive cases in my city and we thought we would not have the same problem as China, South Korea or Italy.

We felt safe because we work in a strong Public Health System which covers 99% of the population and is worldwide well-known as being of good quality and modern. Also, our primary care and hospital structures are well coordinated and never had problems facing health crises.

Once upon a time (2 weeks ago) there was a Coronavirus that arrived to our city and started to spread among our population. Following guidelines from our Italian, Chinese and Korean colleagues, we began with some mild actions, thinking the same thing would not happen in our strong Madrid health system. Unfortunately, we were wrong and our “COVID curve“ was exactly the same as in previous countries!

Currently, with the support of our institutions, we have joined our efforts and all public and private Madrid hospitals (105 centres), are working as one.

We have distributed our worst COVID cases along the different intensive care units of the city and also relocated the cases between the hospitals which have free beds or free ICU slots.

In this “war” situation, what is the role of an orthopaedic surgeon? Well, some hospitals can't operate their trauma cases due to restrictions on OR and need to distribute the trauma cases to other hospitals. Some colleagues are allowed to operate trauma cases only through regional anaesthesia. So, in some places, orthopaedic surgeons have been recruited to support anaesthesiologists and intensive care colleagues. We mainly support them leading pronation manoeuvres of critical patients and managing treatments of ICU patients, following medical treatment protocols.

If you think this situation can not happen in your country/city... it can!

What should we do as orthopaedic surgeons to be ready for this “COVID Tsunami”?

  • Cancel all your elective surgeries

  • Cancel all your clinic appointments

  • Be ready to manage your trauma cases in a “different way” that what you did 2 months ago

  • Be ready to support in the management of intensive care units

My dear colleagues, be ready to put on your helmets and your weapons, and fight like “Spartans” against Coronavirus. Auuuurrr!