National Post: Fear of COVID-19 believed to be behind plummeting number of non-coronavirus ER visits across Canada
April 17, 2020
“On one level, that’s a good thing, doctors say. It means they have more time and more resources to dedicate to staying safe and fighting COVID-19. But the flip side, many doctors worry, is that patients who do need urgent care are now delaying or putting off treatment entirely because they’re afraid of coming in to the hospital.
“I usually go through an ER shift where I’m seeing 10 people with chest pain to rule out a heart attack,” said Dr. David Carr, who practices emergency medicine in Toronto. “(Now), I’m not seeing anyone.”
It isn’t just heart patients, either. Overall ER volumes in Ontario are down anywhere between 20 and 50 percent, depending on the hospital, Carr said. Doctors are seeing fewer stroke patients, fewer patients with appendicitis. In Vancouver, Dr. Daniel Kalla, the head of the emergency department at St. Paul’s Hospital, is seeing fewer opioid overdose patients, even as the number of overdose deaths in that province continues to climb. “The issue is, where the —- are all these patients?” Carr said.”