With easily over 4 million cases worldwide and causing over 285,000 deaths, people have been naturally scared to venture out into public places, for fear of contracting COVID-19. This is especially true of places that usually have large amounts of people, inside close quarters. Unfortunately, that is the very reason many people suffering from serious conditions, have avoided returning to hospitals. Physicians are worried that the drop-off of patients visiting the ER, could signal a new wave of patients once the coronavirus is no longer deemed a threat to the public, patients who have delayed care for far too long. Many HCPs believe that because these patients have delayed care, their conditions will worsen and become harder to treat, and in some cases be untreatable.
Take for instance the patient Dr. Abhineet Chowdhary, director of Overlake Neuroscience Institute in Washington, was able to meet. The patient, a mid-50s Washington resident and stroke victim, expressed to those close to her that she was suffering from “the worst headache of my life” and feared going to the hospital, because she was afraid of coming into contact with someone who carried the coronavirus. About a week later, when she finally decided to go to a hospital and have herself evaluated, she discovered that she had a brain bleed. The brain bleed ended up costing the Washington citizen her life, after suffering multiple strokes. Doctors were left wondering, “what if the patient had not delayed treatment and had come in, as soon as she was experiencing headaches”, as this is something that can usually be treated.
Throughout the nation, ER activity has plummeted nearly 40-50%, which has shocked physicians, since many of them were expecting an increase in volume in ER visits once the coronavirus pandemic peaked. What has HCPs even more concerned, is they know the need for ER services has not gone down. Said Dr. Tashman, Medical Director of the ER at USC Verdugo Hills Hospital, in California, “we know the number of heart attacks, isn’t going down in a pandemic, it really shouldn’t”.
Despite the social distancing regulations, HCPs would like to ask the public to not avoid hospital care, out of fear. “I think the real tragedy here would be, if we lose more people who weren’t infected with COVID-19 for that reason”, said Dr. Kristina Box, Indiana State Health commissioner. If the patient knows the ailment is not serious or urgent, physicians still ask that you use telemedicine and virtual visits with your doctor. During the COVID-19 pandemic era, it is more important now than ever, to monitor your body and to seek help if you feel like your health is deteriorating.