Patient visits to an emergency department in anticipation of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Tidsskr Nor Laegeforen. 2020 May 26;140(8):
Authors: Bjørnsen LP, Næss-Pleym LE, Dale J, Laugsand LE
BACKGROUND: The Emergency Department in Trondheim has prepared for a large influx of patients infected with the SARS-CoV-2 virus. We conducted a study comparing patients in the Emergency Department in the first weeks of the pandemic in Norway (weeks 11 and 12) with the average number of patient visits.
MATERIAL AND METHOD: Data from patients at the Emergency Department of St Olav's Hospital in the period 6 January 2020-22 March 2020 were retrieved from the Emergency Department's database. Logistical patient data concerning patient numbers, chief complaints, length of stay in the Emergency Department, acuity level, isolation status, and treatment level were analysed.
RESULTS: In week 12, 331 patients were referred to the Emergency Department, a reduction of 39 % compared with the average of 541 patients in weeks 2-10. There was a general reduction in all patient groups, but particularly those discharged from the Emergency Department. In week 12 there were 56 more patients isolated with suspected/potentially infectious disease (187 %) compared with the average for weeks 2-10, and these patients spent almost two hours longer in the Emergency Department than other patients.
INTERPRETATION: There was a reduction in patient visits to the Emergency Department in the first weeks of the pandemic. The percentage of patients isolated for infection control increased, and the time spent in the Emergency Department for these patients was greater than for other patients. The reduction in the inflow of patients is expected to be temporary, and the Emergency Department at St Olav's Hospital expects a large influx of patients with suspected COVID-19 disease.
PMID: 32463204 [PubMed - as supplied by publisher]