Victoria’s State of Emergency (SOE) measures resulted in almost 40 per cent less people presenting to Alfred Health’s emergency departments earlier this year, prompting doctors to issue an urgent call for people to continue seeking medical care if they need it.
According to new research, Victoria’s strict ‘stay at home’ measures throughout April and March resulted in significantly fewer injuries presenting to The Alfred and Sandringham emergency departments. However, the researchers fear some people with time-sensitive medical conditions may be choosing not to seek emergency care.
Lead researcher and emergency physician Dr Rob Mitchell said similar trends had been observed overseas.
“While a reduction in certain presentations can be explained by activity and movement restrictions associated with the SOE, the introduction of physical distancing measures does not plausibly explain the decreased frequency of all acute conditions,” Dr Mitchell said.
“It also raises concerns that some patients with chronic illness like diabetes or heart failure may be forgoing ED attendance when they experience an exacerbation of their underlying disease.”
During the stage 2 and 3 lockdown measures in March and April, the emergency departments saw an average 174 patients per day, down from 272 in 2019. It is expected a similar reduction will occur across the current lockdown.
“Emergency departments are prepared and have capacity to treat everyone who needs care – and we strongly encourage people not to put off seeking medical care if they need it, because it could lead to far more serious illness later down the track,” Dr Mitchell said.
“It’s safe to come to hospital if you need to, there are strict infection prevention measures in place. For people who have a less urgent condition and don’t want to come to emergency, we encourage you to speak to your GP.”
Patients who tested positive to COVID-19 were excluded from the study. Access the full article.