Background This study aimed to determine the effect of the COVID-19 outbreak on emergency department (ED) visits and emergency consultations according to the triage levels indicating the patients’ urgency. Methods A cross-sectional retrospective study was performed in the ED of a tertiary training and research hospital between 1 April and 31 May 2020 in İstanbul, Turkey. The daily count of emergency visits and the count of the emergency consultations during the study period were recorded. The emergency visits and consultations in the same months of the previous year (1 April-31 May 2019) were included as a control group. Results Approximately 50% reduction in ED visits and a 30% reduction in emergency consultations were detected. A significant decrease was detected in all triage levels of visits and emergency consultations (p < 0.001). Within total ED visits, a significant increase was found in the red (4.32% vs. 4.74%) and yellow (21.66% vs. 33.16%) triage levels visit rates, while the green (74.01% vs. 62.1%) level was decreased. Within total emergency consultations, anesthesiology (0.83% vs. 1.56%) and cardiology (3.17% vs. 3.75%) consultation rates increased, neurology (2.22% vs. 1.15%), orthopedics (3.53% vs. 3.01%), and ophthalmology (2.89% vs. 1.57%) consultation rates decreased, internal medicine (2.45% vs. 2.49%), and general surgery (4.46% vs. 4.64%) consultation rates did not change. Conclusions During the COVID-19 pandemic, ED visits at all triage levels decreased. While the rate of critical patient visits increased, non-emergency patient visit rates decreased. The total count of consultations decreased, while the total consultation rates increased. The management of the COVID-19 pandemic will be easier by using or developing appropriate triage scores, as well as establishing good interdisciplinary coordination.
Copyright © 2021, İlhan et al.