At the start of the COVID-19 eruption, emergency departments were dealing with an overwhelming influx of patients and people were urged to seek alternate care for nonemergency problems.
While things are certainly not back to normal, there is a concern that many people may be ignoring important medical emergencies -- either because they think the ER is too busy or they don’t want to be exposed to the virus.
The American College of Emergency Physicians released an advisory reading in part:
“In the last month, some emergency departments across the country are seeing a reduction in patient volume of more than 30 percent. In some rural or underserved communities, emergency physicians are seeing fewer patients but report that those who do come in are more seriously ill or injured, which may mean they are putting off necessary treatment.”
While doctors still need to preserve emergency capacity for sicker patients -- especially in harder hit areas -- we most definitely do not want people in need of care to ignore serious problems.
Especially problems like the following:
- Bleeding that will not stop
- Breathing problems
- Change in mental status
- Chest pain
- Coughing up or vomiting blood
- Fainting or loss of consciousness
- Feeling suicidal or feeling homicidal
- Head or spine injury
- Severe or persistent vomiting
- Sudden, severe pain anywhere in the body
- Sudden dizziness, sudden muscle or general weakness, sudden change in vision
- Ingestion of a poisonous substance
- Severe abdominal pain or pressure
To protect uninfected patients, most emergency rooms are providing masks to wear in the ER to patients that don’t have their own.