The effect of national lockdown due to COVID-19 on emergency department visits

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4 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Background: COVID-19 outbreak lead to nationwide lockdown in Finland on the March 16th, 2020. Previous data regarding to the patient load in the emergency departments during pandemics is scarce. Our aim is to describe the effect of national lockdown and social distancing on the number and reasons for emergency department (ED) visits and inpatient admissions in three large volume hospitals prior to and after the outbreak of the COVID-19 epidemic in Finland. Methods: Data for this register-based retrospective cohort study were collected from three large ED’s in Finland, covering 1/6 of the Finnish population. All patients visiting ED’s six weeks before and six weeks after the lockdown were included. Pediatric and gynecological patients were excluded. Numbers and reasons for ED visits and inpatient admissions were collected. Corresponding time period in 2019 was used as reference. Results: A total of 40,653 ED visits and 12,226 inpatient admissions were analyzed. The total number of ED visits decreased 16% after the lockdown, whereas the number of inpatient admissions decreased 15% (p < 0.001). This change in inpatient admissions was similar in all participating hospitals. Visits due to back or limb pain decreased 31% and infectious diseases 28%. The visit rate and inpatient admissions due to acute myocardial infarction and strokes remained stable throughout the study period. Interestingly, the rate of inpatient admissions due to psychiatric diagnoses remained unchanged, although the ED visit rate decreased by 19%. The number of ED visits (n = 282) and inpatient admissions (n = 55) due to COVID-19 remained low in the participating hospitals. Conclusions: Changes in ED visits and inpatient admissions prior to and during the early phase of the COVID-19 outbreak were unpredictable, and our results may help hospitals and especially ED’s focus their resources better. Surprisingly, there was a major decrease in the rate of ED visits due to back or limb pain and not so surprisingly in infectious diseases. Rates of acute myocardial infarctions and cerebral strokes remained stable. In summary, stabile resources for the treatment of patients with severe diseases will be needed in hospitals and ED’s.

Original languageEnglish
Article number114
JournalScandinavian Journal of Trauma, Resuscitation and Emergency Medicine
Volume28
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2020
Publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

Keywords

  • Acute myocardial ischaemia
  • COVID-19
  • Emergency medicine
  • Epidemiology
  • Pandemic
  • Stroke

Publication forum classification

  • Publication forum level 1

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Emergency Medicine
  • Critical Care and Intensive Care Medicine

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