A new UBC study published in the Emergency Medicine Journal on Oct. 29, 2020 found fewer children are visiting ER departments at B.C. hospitals. (Children’s Hospital/Facebook)

A new UBC study published in the Emergency Medicine Journal on Oct. 29, 2020 found fewer children are visiting ER departments at B.C. hospitals. (Children’s Hospital/Facebook)

Fewer children visiting emergency rooms in B.C. during pandemic: UBC study

The research is published in the Emergency Medicine Journal

The number of families with children who accessed emergency departments across British Columbia during the “peak” of the pandemic declined from the same period last year, according to a recent University of British Columbia study.

The findings published in the Emergency Medicine Journal suggest that many families may have avoided visiting emergency departments for “minor illnesses during the peak of the pandemic from March 17 to April 30.”

READ MORE: Flu shot demand up and getting more supply won’t be easy, feds say

Looking at 18 emergency departments in Metro Vancouver, the research found a 70 per cent decline in visits to B.C. emergency departments at general hospitals, and a 57 per cent decline in visits to the emergency department at BC Children’s Hospital from March 17 to April 20, compared to the same time period last year.

“There are many reasons why families may have avoided visiting emergency departments, ranging from concerns over contracting the virus while in hospital to a desire to avoid overburdening the healthcare system,” said the study’s lead author Dr. Ran Goldman, professor in the UBC faculty of medicine’s department of pediatrics.

Overall, the study found the number of children arriving to emergency departments declined by nearly 67 per cent compared to the previous year.

However, while the overall number of admissions were less than the previous year, the research indicates the admission rate actually increased from four to seven per cent.

“This suggests that, among children who presented to the emergency department, the proportion of serious illness was higher and minor illness lower, compared with the previous year,” according to the study.

The study found the largest decline (more than 70 per cent) was seen in visits with symptoms related to fever and gastrointestinal issues among children, followed by orthopaedic concerns (a 69 per cent decline) and respiratory symptoms (a 56 per cent decline).

READ MORE: Canada updates COVID-19 guidelines to include airborne transmission, following U.S., WHO

Although the study focuses on emergency departments in the province, researchers found similar trends reported in Italy, England and Spain.

“It is possible that physical distancing and the closure of schools reduced the spread of other viral illnesses, resulting in the decrease in emergency department visits,” Goldman said.

The lead author says the study highlights “the importance of ensuring the community is aware that hospitals are safe to visit in an emergency situation during the pandemic.”


@JotiGrewal_
joti.grewal@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

CoronavirusHospitalsresearchUBC

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

An ermine, or weasel, popped up to say hi in Vernon recently. (Carmen Tamas)
Weasels keep Vernon mouse population under control

‘Cute’ little carnivores can be a problem if you have chickens, but great for rodent management

Veteran Vernon broadcaster Betty Selin has accepted an invitation from the Vernon Community Radio Society to be its honourary fundraising campaign chairperson. (Photo submitted)
Veteran Vernon broadcaster named honourary fundraising chair

Betty Selin accepts invitation from Vernon Community Radio Society as campaign is set to start

The Village of Lumby is implementing a new residential waste collection program that will include curbside organic collection later in 2021. (File photo)
Curbside compost among coming changes to Lumby waste collection

A new waste collection program aims to reduce the amount of waste in regional landfills

COVID-19 numbers provided by Interior Health show Salmon Arm and Revelstoke in the 200-plus range from January 2020 to February 2021 while Vernon, with a larger population, tallied more than 600 over the 14 months. (BC Centre for Disease Control map)
14 months of COVID-19 data show Kamloops cases doubling Vernon’s

Jan. 1, 2020 to Feb. 28, 2021: 605 cases reported for Vernon, 243 for Salmon Arm, 1,246 for Kamloops

The Greater Vernon Chamber of Commerce’s general manager Dan Proulx, left, hosted a virtual Official Opposition town hall meeting with Shadow Cabinet Minister Small Business Pat Kelly, right, and North Okanagan-Shuswap MP Mel Arnold March 3, 2021. (Screenshot)
Tourism key to business recovery in North Okanagan-Shuswap: MP

Easing travel restrictions, limiting taxation and debt management critical to COVID-19 economic recovery

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry head for the B.C. legislature press theatre to give a daily update on the COVID-19 pandemic, April 6, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C. nears 300,000 COVID-19 vaccinations, essential workers next

564 new cases, four deaths, no new outbreaks Thursday

Walter Gretzky father of hockey hall-of-famer Wayne Gretzky waves to fans as the Buffalo Sabres play against the Toronto Maple Leafs during third period NHL hockey action in Toronto on Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Walter Gretzky, father of the Great One, dies at 82

Canada’s hockey dad had battled Parkinson’s disease and other health issues

Riverside Centre includes a theatre hosting local plays, visiting musicians and dance troupes. It is also used for community events such as public meetings and fundraisers. Photo Town of Princeton
Penticton Fire Department pulled a kayaker from Okanagan Lake on Wednesday after he had fallen out of his boat and called 911. The man was taken to the hospital for treatment. (Western News - File)
Kayaker rescued from Okanagan Lake after falling in and calling 911

The Penticton Fire Department’s Marine Rescue pulled him out suffering from severe cold

Kelowna General Hospital (File photo)
Second death reported in Kelowna General Hospital COVID-19 outbreak

A total of seven cases have been identified at the hospital: six patients and one staff

Thomas Kruger-Allen is expected to be sentenced Friday, March 5, 2021.
Sentencing expected Friday for 2019 Penticton beach attack

Defense wants 12 to 18 months for beach assaults that left one of his victims with brain injury

(BCCDC)
42 cases of COVID-19 in the Central Okanagan last week

Officials have identified almost 3,000 cases of the virus in the Central Okanagan throughout the pandemic

Municipal Affairs Minister Josie Osborne speaks in the B.C. legislature, March 4, 2021. (Hansard TV)
B.C. Liberals, NDP sing in harmony on local election reforms

Bill regulates paid canvassers, allows people in condo buildings

(National Emergency Management Agency)
No tsunami risk to B.C. from powerful New Zealand earthquake: officials

An 8.1 magnitude earthquake shook the north of New Zealand Thursday morning

Most Read