Decline in emergency department visits during the COVID-19 quarantine

Amani Daoud, Ohad Ronen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations

Abstract

Background: Emergency department (ED) visits can be divided into urgent and non-urgent. A delay in seeking medical help, especially in urgent cases, can lead to fatal consequences, along with a higher rate of complications and morbidity. Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic spread led to restrictions and eventually quarantines. We investigated the impact of the COVID-19 spread and quarantine on ED visits rates comparing to parallel periods in preceding years (2013–2019). In addition, we compared this decrease to holidays and weekends, times in which a decrease in ED visits is seen. Methods: This was a descriptive retrospective study. Causes of ED referrals were divided into urgent and non-urgent, then into different subcategories including infectious, cardiac, etc. Results: For the spring COVID-192020 quarantine period, a 56.3% decrease of mean ED visits per day was seen, as compared to preceding years (55.7% and 98.9% respectively). This decrease was also statistically evident when comparing the urgent and non-urgent causes separately and for all sub-categories. This pattern of decrease also showed statistical evidence of fewer ED visits during holidays for most comparisons, in which lower ED visit rates are expected. Significantly lower rates of ED visits were demonstrated during the COVID-19 quarantine period, as compared to preceding years and main holidays and weekends, a decrease that was also demonstrated for urgent life-threatening causes. Conclusion: Our findings can be used to inform a wide range of stakeholders, including regional planners, historians, sociologists, and international healthcare organizations. Healthcare providers should understand the reasons for this ED visit decline pattern, attempt to address patients' concerns, and increase awareness regarding alarming symptoms in urgent medical situations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)74-80
Number of pages7
JournalAmerican Journal of Emergency Medicine
Volume71
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 Elsevier Inc.

Keywords

  • COVID-19
  • Emergency department (ED)
  • Holidays
  • Quarantine
  • Urgent
  • Weekends

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