AARP posted this April 22, 2020, story by Michelle Crouch, about patients who avoid needed emergency care because they are afraid of catching coronavirus. Below are the highlights of the article; click here to read the rest of the story.
In a trend that is alarming medical providers, adults fearing contact with COVID-19 are staying at home instead of going to hospital emergency rooms when they have serious symptoms of life-threatening conditions such as heart attack and stroke.
Doctors say the resulting delays in treatment are causing complications and long-term health problems such as irreversible brain and heart damage, disability, amputation and fatalities.
Since the coronavirus pandemic hit, the number of patients visiting emergency rooms nationwide has dropped by 40 to 50 percent, says William Jaquis, M.D., an emergency medicine physician in Aventura, Fla., and president of the American College of Emergency Physicians.
“We are afraid that patients could potentially die at home,” Jaquis warns.
Older adults are especially at risk because they are more likely to have cardiovascular disease, diabetes and other chronic medical conditions that make putting off emergency care especially risky, doctors say.
Cardiologist K. Dale Owen Jr., M.D., CEO of Tryon Medical Partners in Charlotte, N.C., says one of his patients stayed up all night chewing nitroglycerine tablets for his chest pain because he was too scared to go to the ER. He called Owen the next morning, and Owen had to talk him into going to the hospital.
“I told him, ‘Your risk of heart attack is tenfold your risk of COVID,’” Owen recalls. “If you’re having a pending heart attack, you’re at much greater risk at home than you are in the ER.”