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Visits to the emergency room have declined in Florida and across the country since the COVID-19 pandemic began. Visits to emergency departments in Florida are down nearly 50% compared to last year. It’s not entirely clear why, but it may be a combination of several factors.

With so many of us at home, we are driving less and working less, so it makes sense there would be fewer visits to the emergency room for motor vehicle crashes and work-related injuries.

A more concerning possibility is that people who need emergent care may avoid the emergency room.  There are reports from all over the country on medical social media sites where patients have put off needed emergency care.  A patient in Memphis with a mild urinary tract infection ended up in the intensive care unit on a ventilator because she waited too long to get care in the infection got out of control.

And older adult in Houston with diverticulitis avoided the hospital for so long that he ended up with a bowel perforation which is a surgical emergency.  A patient in Chicago who fell and hit her head waited more than a week before coming in, despite a severe headache.  By the time she came to the hospital the patient had bleeding in her brain that required immediate surgery and put her at risk for long-term memory problems.

People may also avoid the emergency room because of fear of catching COVID-19. Hospitals are working hard to make sure that emergency rooms stay safe. If you need emergent care, the safest thing for you to do is go to the emergency room.

Call 911 for situations that cannot wait, such as choking, severe chest pain or pressure, or a seizure that lasted 3 to 5 minutes.
Go to an emergency room or call 911 for help for problems like trouble breathing, fainting, unusual or bad headache (especially if it started suddenly), severe pain anywhere on the body, severe allergic reaction, high fever with headache and stiff neck or that does not get better with medicine, poisoning or overdose, suicidal thoughts, or seizures.
If you are not sure what to do, call your health care provider or make a telemedicine appointment at www.americanvirtualcare.com with one of our board certified providers. You may be advised to go to the emergency room or it may be something an urgent care clinic can help with.
Avoiding needed health care doesn’t keep us safe. If you are having an emergency, call 911 or go to the emergency room.

Practice compassion. Check on your loved ones staying safe at home, make sure they know how to get emergency care if they need it.

Stay home (unless you’re having an emergency!) and stay healthy.

American Virtualcare was here before the pandemic and we will be here when life returns to normal.

If needed our providers can order labs, x-rays and send prescriptions to the pharmacy of your choice.