The COVID-19 pandemic has affected medical practice in fields not related to the infection. Neurogastroenterology is a subspecialty of gastroenterology focused on motility and functional gastrointestinal disorders, including consultations, and conducting procedures (eg, endoscopies, manometries/pH-monitoring).
The aim of this study was to determine the impact of COVID-19 on Neurogastroenterology in Latin America.
Members of the Latin American Society of Neurogastroenterology were invited by e-mail and social networks to participate in an online anonymous survey. It included 24 questions on demographics, clinical practice and procedure characteristics, impact of the pandemic, Telemedicine, and involvement in COVID-19 patient care.
Sixty-one members mainly from Colombia, Mexico, and Brazil answered the survey. All reported a negative impact on their practice (88.6%: a 61% to 100% decrease), mainly in office consultations and elective endoscopies. Interestingly, emergency endoscopies decreased by 33.3%, while only 4% stopped performing manometries/pH-monitoring. The main reasons were patients’ fear for consulting, country’s lockdown, and physician’s decision to prevent infection spread. Telemedicine was implemented by 83% but only 64.7% were being remunerated. Almost 46% had to reduce salaries and working hours of their personnel. Fifty-nine percent had colleagues diagnosed with COVID-19, 24.6% were involved in these patients’ care, and 11.5% were mobilized to COVID-19 wards. There were country differences: Colombia, lockdown (P=0.001); Mexico, COVID-19 patient-care (P=0.053); Mexico/Colombia, working in COVID-19 wards, (P=0.012); Brazil, less common elective procedures’ ban (P=0.012) and Telemedicine/reimbursement (P=0.034).
The COVID-19 pandemic has negatively impacted the practice and wellness of Neurogastroenterologists in Latin America. Guidelines to resume activities and policies for Telemedicine practice and reimbursement are warranted.