Patient fear of COVID-19 is keeping them out of the ER

The number of patients seeking help in emergency rooms has dropped dramatically in recent months, and doctors are concerned. FOX 11's Araksya Karapetyan spoke with Dr. John Harold, a cardiac specialist at Cedar’s Sinai Medical Center and the board president of the American Heart Association chapter here in Los Angeles.  

Harold says doctors are concerned as empty ERs mean patients are experiencing symptoms but not reporting them or reaching out for medical help due to fear of infection from COVID-19. Harold cited a survey of paramedics in New York City that found an 800% increase in sudden cardiac deaths in the month of March year over year, which most likely occurred because people did not call 911 when they felt ill or waited too late to call.  

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Nationally, hospitals have seen a 40-50% decrease in the number of patients coming in through the ER.

Dr. Harold’s message is clear. He says most hospitals across the nation have been preparing since the beginning of the year, when the first U.S. cases of COVID-19 were reported,  to keep patients safe. He said hospitals are using universal precautions and excellent protocols for patient safety, including rapid COVID tests, separating patients who may have COVID from other patients, disinfecting areas between patients as well the normal use of masks and other protective gear.

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Hospital staff is trained to keep patients safe during a pandemic according to Harold.  “The fear of the coronavirus and the implications of not seeking care has much more potential for lethality than potential exposure to the coronavirus.”

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