The following is the summary of “Six Diagnoses of Separation: Impact of COVID-19 on Pediatric Emergency Department Visits: A Multicenter Study” published in the December 2022 issue of Emergency Medicine by Rethi, et al.
As early as March 2020, the New York City area was hit by the 2019 coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. Clinics and hospitals, as well as the general public, were urged to be avoided as much as possible to slow the spread of the infection. As a result, fewer children needed treatment at an Emergency department (ED). Visits for common conditions like anxiety, appendicitis, asthma, headaches, seizures, and urinary tract infection (UTI) may have been affected, but the extent of this effect is unknown. These diagnoses were selected a priori because they were thought to be representative of visits to the ED, where the diagnoses are less likely to change owing to COVID exposure or quarantine because of the acute nature of the presentation. The purpose of this study was to use a large multihospital database to examine how COVID-19 affected the most prevalent pediatric diagnoses treated in the pediatric ED.
For this study, researchers looked at consecutive pediatric patients (less than 21 years old) treated in the emergency rooms of 28 hospitals located within 150 miles of New York City between March 1, 2019, and November 30, 2020. The number of visits for anxiety, appendicitis, asthma, headache, seizures, and UTIs was compared between 2019 and 2020. There were a total of 346,230 pediatric visits in our database. The number of tourists visiting a country fell by 61% from 2019 to 2020. Asthma decreased by 75%, headaches by 64%, urinary tract infections by 47%, anxiety by 32%, seizures by 28%, and appendicitis by 18% (P value for each comparison <0.0001).
Investigators discovered that after the introduction of COVID-19, 6 prevalent pediatric diseases led to significantly fewer visits to the emergency room. The advice to stay indoors out of fear of catching the illness and the quarantine contributed to this drop. There has to be more research into the effects of non-urgent diagnoses and treatment delays.