Coronavirus: Cedars-Sinai says COVID-19 fears prompting patients to avoid the ER despite serious medical issues

Cedars-Sinai says it has seen a 30% drop in emergency room visits compared to this time last year, likely due to the fear of contracting coronavirus.
LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Cedars-Sinai Medical Center officials say the hospital has seen a 30% drop in emergency room visits compared to this time last year, and health officials believe the decrease is directly related to the fear of contracting coronavirus.

Nearly 100,000 patients pass through the Cedars-Sinai Beverly Hill emergency room every year. But even in the midst of a global pandemic, there are fewer patients coming in for non-coronavirus related emergencies.

"We're now seeing patients come in later. Things that require surgery, much later. So it's more complicated," said Dr. Sam Torbati, co-chair and medical director of the Cedars-Sinai Emergency Department.

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Dr. Torbati says compared to this time last year their ER has seen 18% fewer stroke patients, 10% fewer patients suffering from heart attacks and overall 30% less patients in the hospital.

Doctors believe the drop in numbers is a direct result of fears of coming down with COVID-19.

"People are still having heart attacks. People are still developing bad infections, sepsis, stroke. So if people are developing these symptoms, they've gotta come in," Dr. Torbati said.

He adds that by the time some patients come in, the damage caused by some medical issues can be hard to reverse.

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Dr. Torbati also stresses that there is a complete separation of general and COVID-19 patients.

"Hospitals like ours, we're not overwhelmed. We can definitely take care of people's emergent needs," he said.
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