Background: In 2020, routine cataract surgery was halted in most countries due to the COVID-19 pandemic in order to reduce transmission. With a consequent lack of theatre space, we developed a safe cataract pathway in outpatient department clean rooms to minimize patient exposure and time spent in hospital using a sterile laminar air flow device. We describe our initial experiences of restarting elective cataract surgery in the UK outpatient setting, outside of the operating theatre environment.
Methods: This was a prospective consecutive study of our clinical practice. A sterile air zone unit, the Toul Meditech Operio Mobile device, was used to create a sterile surgical site in three separate outpatient clean rooms from May 2020 to December 2021 in different geographical locations within Herefordshire, UK. Observations of the time spent in the department and a formal patient satisfaction survey were carried out for the initial 100 patients. All patients were followed up to assess development of post-operative complications.
Results: 1269 patients were included in the study. No patients sustained post-operative infection (n = 0/1269, 0%). For the initial 100 patients, the average time spent within the department was 74.3 min (unilateral cases, range 45-115 min) and 93.1 min (bilateral, 55-135 min). Patient satisfaction was high.
Conclusion: Initial results demonstrate a safe, efficient and effective cataract surgery pathway with high patient satisfaction by converting outpatient clean rooms into ophthalmic operating theatres using the Toul Meditech Operio Mobile.