Patients avoided important care during the early weeks of the coronavirus pandemic: diverticulitis patients were more likely to present with an abscess on CT
Zintsmaster MP, and Myers DT. Patients avoided important care during the early weeks of the coronavirus pandemic: diverticulitis patients were more likely to present with an abscess on CT. Emerg Radiol 2021; 28(2):279-282.
PURPOSE: To evaluate the frequency with which patients with an urgent health concern, specifically diverticulitis, avoided appropriate medical care during the early weeks of the coronavirus pandemic of 2020 and to study the consequences of the resultant delay in care, the incidence of an associated abscess.
METHODS: This study was institutional review board approved. Reports for CT studies with findings of newly diagnosed diverticulitis within Henry Ford Health System during the early weeks of the coronavirus pandemic of 2020 were reviewed and compared with the same time period in 2019. Total cases of diverticulitis on CT were compared, as well as the prevalence of an associated abscess. A chi-squared analysis was performed to determine the statistical significance of the percentage of patients presenting with an abscess in each year.
RESULTS: During the early weeks of the coronavirus pandemic, 120 patients were identified with CT findings of newly diagnosed diverticulitis with 11.7% of those patients (14 patients) presenting with an associated abscess. During the same time period in 2019, many more CT studies with newly diagnosed diverticulitis were obtained (339), and, compared to 2020, less than half the percentage of those patients had an associated abscess (4.4% or 15 patients).
CONCLUSION: Patients with urgent health concerns avoided appropriate and necessary care during the early weeks of the coronavirus pandemic. While non-COVID-19 emergency visits were diminished, patients who did present with diverticulitis were more likely to present with greater disease severity as manifested by an associated abscess. Patients must be encouraged to seek care when appropriate and need reassurance that hospitals and their emergency departments are safe to visit. Furthermore, emergency physicians and radiologists in particular should be vigilant during times when emergency volumes are low, such as a future surge in coronavirus patients, other pandemics, snow storms, and holidays as the patients who do present for care are more likely to present at later stages and with serious complications.
Medical Subject Headings
Abscess; COVID-19; Diverticulitis, Colonic; Female; Humans; Male; Pandemics; Patient Acceptance of Health Care; Prevalence; SARS-CoV-2; Tomography, X-Ray Computed