Readers of JUCM News may recall that, for the most part, patients have been putting off annual physicals, follow-up exams for chronic conditions, and well-child visits since the COVID-19 pandemic took hold in the U.S. However, new data from the CDC show that too many patients also avoided care for immediate needs. Over a 10-week period at the start of various state stay-at-home recommendations, 20% fewer patients sought care for what ended up being heart attack or stroke, compared with representative periods before the pandemic. For acute diabetes-related concerns, 10% fewer sought care. While this CDC study did not track associated mortality, other studies have shown that increased mortality in New York City during the pandemic period exceeded deaths associated with COVID-19 by as much as 20%; in other words, if 100 more patients died in a given week than would have been expected to die before the pandemic, 20 would have expired from something other than coronavirus. Bear in mind that the CDC data reflect patients suffering chest pain, classic signs of stroke, or symptoms of hypoglycemia. Imagine how many of your patients have been avoiding care for lower-acuity, but urgent, lacerations, contusions, orthopedic issues, or sore throat. These patients could have been treated efficiently in urgent care. As discussion of a “second wave” picks up, stress to patients that your urgent care center stands ready to help with immediate care needs, and that you will follow all relevant guidelines to assure their safety (and the safety of your team).
New CDC Data Paint a Dark Picture of Patients Neglecting Needs for Immediate Care