COVID-19 lockdown impact on quality of treatment and outcomes of STEMI and stroke patients in a large tertiary medical center: An observational study

Alex Galper, Racheli Magnezi, Anat Ekka Zohar, Bernice Oberman, Eyal Zimlichman

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1 Scopus citations


Background: The coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic affected health-care systems worldwide, leading to fewer admissions and raising concerns about the quality of care. The objective of this study was to investigate the early effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on quality of care among stroke and ST-elevation myocardial infarction (STEMI) patients, focusing on clinical outcomes and direct treatment costs. Method: This retrospective, observational study was based on the 10-week period that included the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic in Israel (15 February 2020-30 April 2020). Emergency department admissions for stroke and STEMI were compared with parallel periods in 2017-2019, focusing on demographics, risk and severity scores, and the effect of clinical outcomes on hospitalization costs. Results: The 634 stroke and 186 STEMI cases comprised 16% and 19% fewer admissions, respectively, compared to 2019. No significant changes were detected in demographics, most disease management parameters, readmission and mortality outcomes. The mean door-to-balloon time increased insignificantly by 33%, lowering the health quality indicator (HQI) for treatment in <90 min from 94.7% in 2017-2019 to 83% in 2020 (P = 0.022). Among suspected stroke patients, 97.2% underwent imaging, with 28% longer median time from admission (P = 0.05). Consequently, only 24.3% met the HQI of imaging in <29 min, compared to 45.5% in 2017-2019 (P < 0.01). Increased length of stay and more intensive care unit admissions were the leading causes of 6.5% increased mean cost of STEMI patients' initial hospitalization, which totaled $29 300 in the COVID-19 period (P = 0.008). Conclusion: The initial pandemic period caused a decline in HQIs linked to diagnostic and treatment protocols, without changes in outcomes, but with increased hospitalization costs. Medical information and awareness of life-threatening conditions among patients and caregivers should be increased to enable proper diagnosis and management.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbermzac074
JournalInternational Journal for Quality in Health Care
Issue number4
StatePublished - 11 Oct 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 The Author(s). Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of International Society for Quality in Health Care. All rights reserved.


  • COVID-19
  • acute ST-elevation myocardial infarction (STEMI)
  • cerebrovascular accident (CVA)
  • clinical outcomes
  • health quality indicators (HQIs)
  • stroke


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