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Impact of COVID-19 on the Incidence and Severity of Obstetric and Gynecologic Emergency Department Visits in an Integrated Health Care System

COVID-19 has had an unprecedented impact on medical care use and delivery, including stark reductions in emergency department (ED) volume. The aim of this study was to assess changes in incidence of OB/GYN ED visits and disease severity at time of presentation during the COVID-19 pandemic. We conducted a multicenter retrospective study of OB/GYN-related ED visits before and during the COVID-19 pandemic. Incidence rates (IRs) and severity measures were compared across time periods and years. A total of 18,668 OB/GYN ED encounters occurred between January 1 and December 31, 2020, compared to 21,014 encounters between January 1 and December 31, 2019. During shelter-in-place, visits decreased by 41% compared to the pre-pandemic period in 2020 before returning to typical rates (incidence rate ratio (IRR) = 0.98 in fall/winter). We found a similar proportion of patients with hemoglobin < 7 g/dL for diagnoses associated with bleeding and patients with white blood cell count > 12,000 per µL in the setting of infection comparing corresponding time periods in 2019 and 2020. There were fewer formal OB/GYN consults, hospital admissions at time of presentation, and urgent surgical procedures performed across all periods in 2020; however, hospitalization within 7 days substantially increased in the first half of 2020. The incidence of OB/GYN ED visits declined substantially between March and August 2020 but then returned to pre-pandemic levels by fall/winter 2020. The decreased incidence was not accompanied by an increase in severity of presentation.

Authors: Tierney, Cassidy E; Abel, Mary Kathryn; Alavi, Mubarika M; Weintraub, Miranda Ritterman; Avins, Andrew; Zaritsky, Eve

Perm J. 2022 Apr 05;26(1):38-46. Epub 2022-04-05.

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