Despite the sudden influx of patients at many U.S. hospitals due to the coronavirus, some hospitals are reporting a “disturbing” decline in emergency patients, the Inquirer reported.
In the Philadelphia region, some doctors report hospitals experiencing a decline in the number of people being rushed to the hospital, with a noticeable drop in patients with heart attacks and stroke symptoms, according to the Inquirer.
Temple University Hospital reported a 27% drop in heart and stroke patients between March 1 and April 9 when compared with the same time last year. Virtua Health has also seen a small decline, although Penn Medicine and Main Line had not.
Other hospitals in the Philadelphia area haven’t yet offered data since it’s too early, according to the Inquirer, but are worried that this trend could widen.
“The reduction in volume is concerning,” said Kraftin Schreyer, an emergency medicine doctor at Temple’s Episcopal Campus, according to the Inquirer. “We have to assume that the disease prevalence for heart attacks and strokes hasn’t changed, which brings me back to the initial concern that patients are trying to manage their complaints at home because they are potentially afraid of getting exposed to virus in a hospital setting.”
Emergency department admissions have declined at many hospitals, which may partially be due to stay-at-home orders that prevent people from participating in types of activities that would land them in the hospital. For example, coronavirus lockdowns dramatically reduced the number of traffic fatalities because fewer people are on the road. (RELATED: Study: Coronavirus Has Reduced Fatal Crashes More Than Any Other Event In Recent History)
Many people may also be opting instead for urgent care clinics or telemedicine to circumvent a hospital visit, although emergency doctors are not as concerned for these patients as they are the people who are too scared to go to the ER that they’re self-triaging serious conditions.
One doctor said some patients arrive at the hospital in near-septic shock from untreated urinary infections, according to the Inquirer. “Patients who come in with non-COVID-19-related stuff are dying at higher rates,” the doctor told the Inquirer.