Background: The impact of the outbreak of COVID-19 on the work of respiratory physicians in Japan has not yet been evaluated. The study investigates the impact of the outbreak on respiratory physicians’ work over time and identifies problems to be addressed in the future. Methods: We conducted a web-based survey of respiratory physicians in 848 institutions. The survey comprised 32 questions and four sections: Survey 1 (April 20, 2020), Survey 2 (May 27, 2020), Survey 3 (August 31, 2020), and Survey 4 (December 4, 2020). Results: The mean survey response rate was 24.9%, and 502 facilities (59.2%) participated in at least one survey. The proportion of facilities that could perform PCR tests for diagnosis and more than 20 tests per day gradually increased. The percentage capable of managing extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) or more than five ventilators did not increase over time. The proportion that reported work overload of 150% or more, stress associated with lack of personal protective equipment (PPE), and harassment or stigma in the surrounding community did not sufficiently improve. Conclusion: While there was an improvement in expanding the examination system and medical cooperation in the community, there was no indication of enhancement of the critical care management system. The overwork of respiratory physicians, lack of PPE, and harassment and stigma related to COVID-19 did not sufficiently improve and need to be addressed urgently.
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