By Tracy Drury on July 7, 2020



As predicted, fears surrounding the risk of going to the hospital and postponing care during the Covid-19 pandemic are having a major impact on operations for emergency service providers.

New research led by the University at Buffalo shows calls for emergency medical services dropped by 26.1% between early March and late May, with EMS-attended deaths doubling during the period.

This finding covered the six-week period that began on March 2, but also showed the trend persisted through the end of May. The national study, published online by the Society for Academic Emergency Medicine, looked at 911 call data from 10,000 EMS providers as reported to the National Emergency Medical Services Information System database.

The public health implications of the findings are alarming, said E. Brooke Lerner, lead author and vice chair for research in the Department of Emergency Medicine in the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at UB.

The conclusion is that people are waiting too long to pursue help, leading to more acute or urgent conditions that often come too late for intervention. She points to two possible causes: fear of contracting the virus at health-care facilities and the impulse to not burden those facilities with non-COVID-19 issues.


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