Objective: COVID-19 (caused by SARS-CoV-2) is a historic pandemic severely impacting health care. This study examines its early effect on a busy academic emergency department. Methods: A retrospective analysis of patients from an academic tertiary care Level I trauma, cardiac and stroke center's emergency department seeing an average of 54,000 adults and 21,000 pediatric patients per year. Total visits, reasons for patient visits, demographics, disposition, and length of stay were analyzed from January through July 2020 and compared to the same time period in the previous two years. Results: From March through July 2020 there were statistically significant decreases in the total number of patient visits (-47%) especially among pediatric (-73%) and elderly (-43%) patients and those with cardiovascular (-39%), neurological (-63%) complaints, headaches (-60%), back pain (-64%), abdominal pain (-51%), and minor trauma (-71%). There was however a significant increase in pulmonary complaints (+54%), as well as admissions (+32%), and length of stay (+40%). Conclusions: There was a significant drop in overall patients and select groups early in the pandemic, while admissions and emergency department length of stay both increased. This has implications for future pandemic planning.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health