Across the world, people have avoided seeking medical attention during the coronavirus pandemic, resulting in a marked reduction in emergency department (ED) visits. This retrospective cohort study examines in detail how the present pandemic affects ED use by the elderly. The regional database on ED visits in Veneto (northeastern Italy) was consulted to extract anonymous data on all ED visits during 2019 and 2020, along with details concerning patients’ characteristics (access mode, triage code, chief complaint, and outcome). A year‐on‐year comparison was drawn between 2019 and 2020. There was a 25.3% decrease in ED visits in 2020 compared to the previous year. The decrease ranged from −52.4% in March to −18.4% in September when comparing the same months in the two years. This decrease started in late February 2020, with the lowest numbers of visits recorded in March and April 2020 (during the “first wave” of the COVID‐19 pandemic in Italy), and in the autumn (during the “second wave”). The proportion of visits to the ED by ambulance has increased sharply since March 2020, and patients arrived more frequently with severe conditions (red or yellow triage tags) that often required a hospitalization. The greatest decrease was in fact observed for non‐urgent complaints. This decreased concerned a wide range of conditions, including chest pain and abdominal pain. The sharp reduction observed in the present study is unlikely to be attributed entirely to the effect of lockdown measures. Individual psychological and media‐induced fear of contagion most likely played a relevant role in leading people to avoid seeking medical attention.

Elderly people’s access to emergency departments during the covid‐19 pandemic: Results from a large population‐based study in italy

Bardin A.;Buja A.;Barbiellini Amidei C.;Paganini M.;Saia M.;Baldo V.
2021

Abstract

Across the world, people have avoided seeking medical attention during the coronavirus pandemic, resulting in a marked reduction in emergency department (ED) visits. This retrospective cohort study examines in detail how the present pandemic affects ED use by the elderly. The regional database on ED visits in Veneto (northeastern Italy) was consulted to extract anonymous data on all ED visits during 2019 and 2020, along with details concerning patients’ characteristics (access mode, triage code, chief complaint, and outcome). A year‐on‐year comparison was drawn between 2019 and 2020. There was a 25.3% decrease in ED visits in 2020 compared to the previous year. The decrease ranged from −52.4% in March to −18.4% in September when comparing the same months in the two years. This decrease started in late February 2020, with the lowest numbers of visits recorded in March and April 2020 (during the “first wave” of the COVID‐19 pandemic in Italy), and in the autumn (during the “second wave”). The proportion of visits to the ED by ambulance has increased sharply since March 2020, and patients arrived more frequently with severe conditions (red or yellow triage tags) that often required a hospitalization. The greatest decrease was in fact observed for non‐urgent complaints. This decreased concerned a wide range of conditions, including chest pain and abdominal pain. The sharp reduction observed in the present study is unlikely to be attributed entirely to the effect of lockdown measures. Individual psychological and media‐induced fear of contagion most likely played a relevant role in leading people to avoid seeking medical attention.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11577/3416178
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