Tuesday, June 30, 2020

New MMR Report Underscores Importance of Communicating with Patients About Seeking Emergency Care

Acute life-threatening conditions such as heart attack (myocardial infarction), stroke, or hyperglycemic crisis (a complication of uncontrolled high blood sugar) are urgent events that always require immediate emergency care, even during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, recent findings suggest that patients with these conditions either could not access care, or were delaying or avoiding seeking care. 

By May 2020, national syndromic surveillance data found that overall ED visits had declined by 42% during the initial months of the COVID-19 pandemic.

This report describes the trends in ED visits for three acute life-threatening conditions and the public health implications of the findings:

In the 10 weeks following the declaration of the COVID-19 national emergency, ED visits declined 23% for heart attack, 20% for stroke, and 10% for hyperglycemic crisis.

The reduction in ED visits for these conditions might be explained by many factors, including fear of being exposed to COVID-19, unintended consequences of public health recommendations to minimize non-urgent health care, stay-at-home orders, or other reasons.

The sooner emergency care begins, the better the chances of survival. It’s important that people who are experiencing severe chest pain, sudden or partial loss of motor function, altered mental status, uncontrolled high blood sugar, or other life-threatening issues still seek immediate emergency care, even during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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