While the COVID-19 pandemic has led to many business closures and some trepidation about going to medical offices, it is important to visit emergency departments for problems that could be deadly.
A recent poll from the American College of Emergency Physicians and Morning Consult shows 80 percent of adults are concerned about contracting Coronavirus from another patient or visitor if they enter an emergency room. However, emergency care teams see the complications that develop when patients avoid obtaining the care they need, according to the American College of Emergency Physicians. Emergency physicians are “highly trained to handle pandemics and prevent the spread of infectious diseases,” said Dr. William Jaquis, president of the American College of Emergency Physicians.
Dr. Frank LoVecchio, a North Central doctor who works primarily in emergency departments at different local hospitals, agreed. He also is a professor in the University of Arizona College of Medicine – Phoenix.
“That’s one of the negatives of this pandemic is that we do see people with chronic illness not coming to see their doctor or coming to the emergency department,” LoVecchio said. “People are delayed with heart attacks, more delayed with uncontrolled diabetes and kidney issues.”
Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) showed in the 10 weeks after the declaration of COVID-19 as a national emergency, visits to emergency departments decreased 23-percent for heart attacks, 20-percent for strokes and 10-percent for a hyperglycemic crisis.
LoVecchio said emergency departments are taking precautions to protect people amid the pandemic, including keeping patients with COVID-19 separated from patients with other issues and thoroughly disinfecting rooms. Medical professionals and visitors must wear masks.
Some signs that someone might be suffering a heart attack include chest and arm pain, shortness of breath and occasionally nausea and vomiting, LoVecchio said. Signs of a stroke include slurred speech, face drooping or numbness and arm weakness, according to the American Stroke Association.
To learn more about how emergency departments are striving to keep communities safe during this COVID-19 crisis, visit emergencyphysicians.org.