J Korean Med Sci.  2021 Jan;36(1):e11. 10.3346/jkms.2021.36.e11.

Pediatric Emergency Department Utilization and Coronavirus Disease in Daegu, Korea

Affiliations
  • 1Department of Pediatrics, Yeungnam University School of Medicine, Yeungnam University Hospital, Daegu, Korea
  • 2Department of Pediatrics, Keimyung University School of Medicine, Daegu, Korea
  • 3Department of Emergency Medicine, School of Medicine, Daegu Catholic University, Daegu, Korea
  • 4Department of Pediatrics, School of Medicine, Kyungpook National University, Daegu, Korea
  • 5Department of Pediatrics, Daegu Fatima Hospital, Korea
  • 6Department of Emergency Medicine, School of Medicine, Kyungpook National University, Daegu, Korea

Abstract

Background
Limited data exist on children's utilization of the emergency department (ED) in the ongoing coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. Thus, we aimed to examine ED utilization among pediatric patients and the impact of COVID-19 in one large city affected by the outbreak.
Methods
This retrospective study included data from six EDs in Daegu, Korea. We compared the demographic and clinical data of patients presenting to the ED during the COVID-19 pandemic (February 1st–June 30th 2020) with those of patients who visited the ED in this period during 2018 and 2019.
Results
Fewer patients, particularly children visited the EDs during the study period in 2020 than those in the previous (2018/2019) year period: the number of adult patient decreased by 46.4% and children by 76.9%. Although the number of patients increased from the lowest point of the decrease in March 2020, the number of pediatric patients visiting the ED remained less than half (45.2%) in June 2020 compared with that of previous years. The proportion of patients with severe conditions increased in adults, infants, and school-aged children, and consequently resulted in increased ambulance use and higher hospitalization rates. Fewer infants and young children but more school-aged children visited the ED with febrile illnesses in 2020 than in 2018/2019.
Conclusion
The COVID-19 pandemic has led to a substantial decrease in pediatric ED utilization. These findings can help reallocate human and material resources in the EDs during infectious disease outbreaks.

Keyword

COVID-19; Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2; Children; Emergency Department
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