August 5, 2020

Changes in ED visits, hospital admissions during COVID-19 pandemic

By: Judy Mathias
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Editor's Note

From January through April 2020, emergency department (ED) visits decreased and hospital admissions increased in this study of five healthcare systems in five states.

In the 24 EDs studied, the annual volume before the COVID-19 pandemic ranged from 13,000 to 115,000 visits per year.


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The largest decrease in ED visits was seen in New York at 63.5%, followed by Massachusetts at 57.4%, Connecticut at 48.9%, North Carolina at 46.5%, and Colorado at 41.5%, with the most rapid rates of decrease beginning the week of March 11.

Hospital admission rates were stable until COVID-19 case rates began to increase. The largest increase was 149.0% in New York, followed by 51.7% in Massachusetts, 36.2% in Connecticut, 29.4% in Colorado, and 22.0% in North Carolina.

The findings suggest that practitioners and public health officials should emphasize the importance of visiting the ED for serious symptoms, illnesses, and injuries that cannot be managed in other settings, the authors say.

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