COVID-19 spikes led to lower hospital admissions for other conditions

Keith A. Reynolds

As the pandemic worsened, hospital admissions for other conditions fell especially in the Midwest and western parts of the country.

As the number of COVID-19 coronavirus infections grew, hospitalizations for reasons other than the disease fell precipitously suggesting that patients are delaying or forgoing care due to the pandemic.

According to an analysis from Epic Health Research Network (EHRN) and the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF), the decline was measured in November and followed a big drop in overall admissions nationally in the spring which rebounded in the summer. The November drop-off was most deeply felt in the Midwest and Western regions of the country where non-COVID-19 admissions were about 76 percent of the predicted levels at the end of the month.

Nationally, non-COVID-19 admissions dropped to about 80 percent of predicted levels by the beginning of December and reached a low of 63.4 percent of expected levels in early-April but had rebounded to 92 percent of expected levels in the summer, according to the analysis.

The analysis ties the lack of non-COVID-19 admissions to people possibly delaying care in ways that could be harmful to their long-term health. Patients delaying or forgoing care has been a persistent issue throughout the pandemic.

A recent study by the Urban Institute found that According to the report, as of September, 36 percent of adults reported delaying or forgoing health care because they were worried about COVID-19 infection or because their physician offered limited services due to the pandemic.

An even larger portion (40.7 percent) of respondents with one or more chronic conditions reported they’ve delayed or forgone care, while 56.3 percent of respondents with both a physical and a mental health condition have done the same, according to the Institute.

The most common type of medical care delayed or forgone was dental with 25.3 percent, followed by visiting their primary care physician or specialist with 20.6 percent, and receiving preventive health screenings or medical tests with 15.5 percent, the Institute says.