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Use of emergency departments plummets during COVID-19

June 09, 2020

ANN ARBOR, Mich. - In a JAMA Health Forum, two health researchers describe the decrease in emergency department use during the COVID-19 pandemic.

"While data are still being collected and reviewed, we know there was a dramatic drop in patients seeking care in emergency departments during March and April 2020," says

Kocher, along with

"Social distancing, frequent hand washing and wearing masks in public, all help lower the transmission of viruses and infectious illnesses, which are often reasons why patients, especially children, seek emergency care," Macy says.

In addition, Kocher and Macy say the epidemiology of injuries changed during the pandemic, such as fewer motor vehicle accidents occurring due to less travel, and health care administration and policy decisions affected patients' ability to obtain care. For example, cancellations of scheduled procedures and expansion of telehealth appointments kept patients from physically going to a hospital for care.

They also note that the pandemic altered when and how quickly patients turn to the emergency department for urgent care needs.

"This is truly tragic because if someone is experiencing concerning symptoms, we want them to come in as quickly as possible for care," Kocher says. "Our emergency department is safe and ready to care for you."
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Michigan Medicine - University of Michigan

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