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Emergency Departments Saw Decrease in All Non-COVID-19 Diagnoses

FRIDAY, Dec. 4, 2020 -- During the initial phase of the COVID-19 pandemic, emergency departments experienced decreases in nearly all non-COVID-19 conditions, according to a study published online Nov. 5 in the American Journal of Emergency Medicine.

Joshua J. Baugh, M.D., from Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, and colleagues retrospectively analyzed data from five hospitals in a large health system in Massachusetts and compared emergency department visits from March 1 to April 30, 2020, to those during the identical weeks from the prior year.

The researchers found that emergency department volumes decreased by 30.9 percent in 2020 versus 2019. There was an increase seen in average acuity of emergency department presentations, but most non-COVID-19 diagnoses decreased. There was a decrease noted in the number and incidence rate of all noncritical care emergency department procedures, while there was an increase in the occurrence of intubations and central lines. Subspecialty consultations to psychiatry, trauma surgery, and cardiology decreased. Decreases occurred for most nonelective procedures related to emergency department visits, including craniotomies and appendectomies.

"This expectation that COVID-19 would add to the overall hospital volume or emergency department volume didn't turn out to be true," a coauthor said in a statement.

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Posted: December 2020

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