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Total Pediatric ED Visits Decreased in 2020 Versus 2018, 2019

FRIDAY, Jan. 22, 2021 -- There was a decrease in the total number of pediatric emergency department visits in 2020, but the proportion of trauma-related visits increased, according to a study published in the January issue of Hospital Pediatrics.

Zaid Haddadin, M.D., from the Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee, and colleagues examined changes in pediatric emergency department visits secondary to acute respiratory illnesses (ARI) and trauma before and during the pandemic. Data were included for children presenting to the emergency department either for ARI or trauma at a comprehensive pediatric hospital between March and May in 2018, 2019, and 2020.

The researchers found there were 6,393 total emergency department visits in 2020 compared with 11,758 in 2018 and 12,138 in 2019. The total ARI number declined by 58 percent in 2020, and the frequency of ARI decreased significantly. There was a 34 percent decrease in total trauma number and a significant increase in the proportion of trauma. There was an increase in the number and proportion of recreational vehicle accidents, but decreases were seen for all intentional and animal-related trauma.

"The total number of pediatric emergency department visits dropped precipitously in 2020, but the proportions of trauma increased significantly in 2020, accounting for almost one-third of all emergency department visits," the authors write. "Because the COVID-19 pandemic is ongoing with intermittent school-closures, increased parental supervision and adherence to practicing safe activities would be strongly encouraged."

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