The following is a summary of “Decline in emergency department visits during the COVID-19 quarantine,” published in the September 2023 issue of Emergency Medicine by Daoud, et al.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, there was a significant reduction in emergency department (ED) visits, which raised concerns about potential delays in urgent medical care. For a study, researchers sought to understand the impact of the pandemic and associated quarantine measures on ED visit rates compared to previous years and typical periods of reduced ED visits, such as holidays and weekends.
The study involved a retrospective analysis of ED visit data. Visits were categorized as urgent or non-urgent and divided into subcategories like infectious (including respiratory infections), cardiac (including chest pain), and others. The findings were compared across multiple years, including the pandemic year of 2020.
The results revealed a substantial 56.3% decrease in daily ED visits during the COVID-19 quarantine in 2020 compared to preceding years (2013–2019). This decrease was consistent across urgent and non-urgent cases and various subcategories. Importantly, the reduction during the pandemic was even more pronounced than during holidays (55.7% decrease) and weekends (98.9% decrease) when lower ED visit rates were expected. The findings held significance for various stakeholders, including regional planners, historians, sociologists, and healthcare organizations. It emphasized the need for healthcare providers to address patients’ concerns and raise awareness of the importance of timely medical care, particularly in urgent situations, even during crises like a pandemic.
In summary, the COVID-19 pandemic and associated quarantine measures led to a substantial decrease in ED visits, especially for urgent cases, highlighting the importance of maintaining access to emergency care during public health emergencies.