Nearly Half Of Americans Delayed Medical Care Due To Pandemic

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As the coronavirus threat ramped up in March, hospitals, health systems and private practices dramatically reduced inpatient, nonemergency services to prepare for an influx of COVID-19 patients. A poll released Wednesday reveals that the emptiness of medical care centers may also reflect the choices patients made to delay care.

The Kaiser Family Foundation poll found that 48% of Americans said they or a family member has skipped or delayed medical care because of the pandemic, and 11% of them said the person’s condition worsened as a result of the delayed care. (KHN is an editorially independent program of the foundation.)

Medical groups have noted a sharp drop-off in emergency patients across the country. Some, including the American College of Emergency Physicians, American College of Cardiology and American Heart Association, have publicly urged people concerned about their health to seek care.

Dr. William Jaquis, president of the American College of Emergency Physicians, said the anecdotes he’s heard of people delaying care have been troubling, with patients suffering heart attacks or strokes at home. He urged people not to skip going to the emergency room, and pointed out the many safety precautions hospitals are taking to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

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