Emergency Departments have a drastic change in the number and acuity of patients being admitted through the COVID-19 pandemic.
In a study published in the Medical Journal of Australia, emergency health workers in New South Wales and Victoria have seen a sizeable drop in presentations in 2020 compared to 2019. Despite this, EDs are seeing more complex patients, resulting in no reduction in workload.
For example, ED presentation numbers from Western Sydney Local Health District from March 29 to 31 May 2019 and 2020 show a 25% drop in admissions. However, there was a 14% increase in category 1 presentations (resuscitation).
“I think we will find people’s conditions have been brewing in the community and we will see some presentations of more serious conditions as the pandemic eases,” said Dr Andrew Kam, an emergency doctor at Westmead Hospital and of the study’s authors.
It’s a concern shared by Dr Shyaman Menon from Peninsula Health in Victoria.
“EDs will see the downstream effect of some conditions like uncontrolled hypertension, uncontrolled sugar, uncontrolled chronic kidney and lung disease,” Dr Menon said.
There is concern that patients are not presenting to emergency for important diseases such as gastroentiritis, bronchilitis and influenza, as well as mental health issues.
“We want people who need to be in emergency departments to be there”, the authors said.
The NSW Nurses and Midwives’ Association is the professional association for emergency nurses. To join, visit their website today.