Posted: 2021-09-13 19:00:00
Background: In the spring of 2020, Italy experienced a significant reduction in the number of emergency department (ED) presentations during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. If ED access has an impact on patients' prognosis, such a reduction in ED presentations would be expected to correlate with a parallel increase in the mortality rate of the corresponding population. The aim of the present study was to evaluate the impact of reduced ED presentations on the all-cause mortality of the general population. Methods: Absolute and relative variation in ED accesses from March 1 to April 30 of both 2019 and 2020 in three hub hospitals in areas with different COVID-19 prevalence and age-standardized mortality data from January 1 to June 30 in 2019 and 2020 of the same areas were evaluated. Results: During March and April 2020, ED consults were decreased of approximately 50% in all three hospitals, as compared with the same months in 2019. There was a marked increase in cumulative mortality in Milan (high SARS-CoV2 infection spread zone) compared with the same period in 2019. In the other two municipalities (Ferrara and Perugia), which had intermediate and low levels of infection spread, the mortality in 2020 was not substantially changed from that of 2019. Conclusions: Taking into account the increase in mortality due to SARS-CoV-2, reductions in ED access did not seem to affect death rates. If this finding will be confirmed, ED organization and access would need to be reconsidered. Keywords: Appropriateness; Covid 19; Emergency department; Hospitalization; Mortality.
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