June 8, 2020

Admissions to VA hospitals for emergency conditions down during COVID-19 pandemic

By: Judy Mathias
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Editor's Note

This study finds that between March 11 and April 21, nearly 42% fewer patients were admitted to Veterans Affairs (VA) hospitals, compared with the preceding 6 weeks, including those who had conditions that generally required emergency treatment.

The number of patients admitted decreased from 77,624 to 45,155, including admissions for the following diagnoses:


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  • stroke, from 1,375 to 661
  • myocardial infarction, from 795 to 475
  • COPD, from 1,701 to 877
  • heart failure, from 1,255 to 639
  • appendicitis, from 236 to 134.

The researchers concluded that the decrease in admissions was unlikely because of declines in elective surgical procedures or disease incidence; but, rather, it was because patients were avoiding hospitals to minimize the risk of COVID-19 infection.

The reduction in admissions should raise serious concerns about the well-being and health outcomes of patients who are not receiving inpatient care for conditions that require emergency treatment, the authors say.

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