March 01, 2021

Medical care still important in a pandemic

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, declines have occurred in the U.S. in the use of some health care services, including vaccinations, cancer screenings and emergency room visits.

At times, Americans were unable to get certain types of medical care because health care facilities were limiting services, especially in the early months of the pandemic. But others skipped care because they didn't want to risk contracting the COVID-19 virus in the emergency room or in a doctor's office.

A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report found that emergency department visits decreased by about 20% for both heart attacks and strokes in the early months of the pandemic. Another CDC report showed that as of June 2020, 12% of adults had avoided or delayed urgent or emergency care due to worry about the pandemic and 32% had avoided routine care.

While caution in a pandemic is understandable, avoiding medical care can have serious consequences. Data from March and April 2020 in five states found a 96% increase in deaths due to diabetes and an 89% increase in deaths due to heart disease. Decreased health care use is considered a contributing reason for these increases.

Always seek emergency care or advice in the event of a medical emergency. Stay on top of your vaccinations. It's vitally important to keep up with your care to manage chronic conditions such as diabetes. For other medical services, contact your primary care provider for guidance on whether an appointment is necessary or can be deferred or to...