SEOUL, Oct. 17 (Korea Bizwire) — While the number of patients visiting emergency rooms at general hospitals has dropped since the pandemic began, the proportion of those who have passed away within seven days of visiting emergency rooms has spiked.
A recent study by the Korea Institute for Health and Social Affairs showed that a total of 4,133,723 visits were made to emergency rooms in 2020, down 22.8 percent from the prior two years.
The number of visits made by patients with mild illnesses like acute tonsillitis, acute upper respiratory infection and acute otitis media, with symptoms similar to COVID-19, has dropped more than those with serious illnesses like myocardial infarction, cardiac arrest and hemorrhagic stroke.
“During the pandemic era, individuals that need immediate treatment for serious illnesses account for a larger share of hospital patients,” the report said.
The number of deaths among 100,000 patients within seven days of visiting an emergency room, however, reached 1,652 in 2020, up by 2.6 percent from 2018 and 2019.
Deaths among children under 14 years of age, in particular, jumped from an average of 37 in 2018 and 2019 to 73 in 2020.
The data indicates a failure to treat non-COVID-19 patients in the pandemic era, as medical authorities focused on curbing the spread of the virus.
The increasing fear of infection and the shutdown of medical institutions are likely behind the decreasing number of visits to medical centers, experts say.
Lina Jang (email@example.com)