Visits to the Pediatric Emergency Department for Eye Conditions Before and During the COVID-19 Pandemic
Reid, Julia E.
Permanent link to this recordhttp://hdl.handle.net/20.500.12613/8095
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AbstractIntroduction: The use of the emergency department (ED) has been increasing, and many visits occur for non-urgent conditions. A similar trend was found among adult visits to the ED for ocular conditions. In this study we analyzed the impact of sociodemographic factors, presentation timing, and the COVID-19 pandemic on pediatric ED (PED) encounters for ophthalmologic conditions. It is important to identify the multifold factors associated with overutilization of the ED for non-urgent conditions. Caring for these patients in an outpatient clinical setting is safe and effective and could decrease ED crowding; it would also prevent delays in the care of other patients with more urgent medical problems and lower healthcare costs. Methods: We retrospectively reviewed electronic health records of PED ocular-related encounters at two children’s hospitals before (January 2014-May 2018) and during the COVID-19 pandemic (March 2020-February 2021). Encounters were categorized based on the International Classification of Diseases codes into “emergent,” “urgent,” and non-urgent” groups. We analyzed associations between sociodemographic factors and degrees of visit urgency. We also compared visit frequencies, degrees of urgency, and diagnoses between pre-pandemic and pandemic data. Results: Pre-pandemic ocular-related PED encounters averaged 1,738 per year. There were highly significant sociodemographic associations with degrees of urgency in PED utilization. During the 12-month pandemic timeframe, encounter frequency contracted to 183. Emergent visits decreased from 21% to 11%, while the proportions of urgent and non-urgent encounters were mostly unchanged. The most common pre-pandemic urgent diagnosis was corneal abrasion (50%), while visual disturbance was most common during the pandemic (92%). During both time periods, eye trauma was the most frequent emergent encounter and conjunctivitis was the most common non-urgent encounter. Conclusion: Sociodemographic factors may be associated with different types of PED utilization for ocular conditions. Unnecessary visits constitute major inefficiency from a healthcare-systems standpoint. The marked decrease in PED utilization and differing proportions of ocular conditions encountered during the pandemic may reflect a decrease in incidence of many of those conditions by social distancing; these changes may also reflect altered parental decisions about seeking care.
CitationJin, J.; Bules, L.; Doctor, K.; Hendricks, D.; Callaghan, K.; Reid, J. E, et al. (2022). Visits to the Pediatric Emergency Department for Eye Conditions Before and During the COVID-19 Pandemic. Western Journal of Emergency Medicine: Integrating Emergency Care with Population Health, 23(3). http://dx.doi.org/10.5811/westjem.2022.1.53392 Retrieved from https://escholarship.org/uc/item/4t91p6g0
Citation to related workUniversity of California
Has partWestern Journal of Emergency Medicine: Integrating Emergency Care with Population Health, Vol. 23, No. 3
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