Precautions for Non-Covid-Related Hospital or Doctor Visits During Covid-19 

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During the COVID-19 pandemic, hospitals across the country are prioritizing care for covid patients. This begs many questions for people experiencing non-covid-related health issues. Should you go to the hospital if you have a chronic health condition? What should you do if you have a health emergency?

The recommendations on this from most sources support the following steps in ensuring the health of you and your family if you are experiencing OTHER health problems than covid-19.

  1. Cancel all appointments that you can safely postpone (1, 2). The American Academy of Pediatrics has suggested that babies under two keep their routine appointments if possible, as their routine appointments are important for their health (3).
  2. Call your doctor.
  3. Consider virtual or phone visits (1).
  4. Stay home unless absolutely necessary if you are over 65. If a loved one or neighbor is over 65, check on them over the phone or ask if they are in need of groceries, medications (4).
  5. If you need to go to an appointment, take precautions. It’s a great idea to do the following if you need to go in to a doctor’s office during the pandemic (1):
    1. Call ahead and ask what precautions are being taken to ensure patients don’t get sick. 
    2. Avoid the waiting room area or wait in your car until it is time to go in.
    3. Ask about separate waiting areas (some doctors will even go out to the parking lot to evaluate you in your vehicle).
    4. Stay at least 6 feet from others.
    5. Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
    6. Use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol when you can’t wash your hands.
    7. Wear a mask.
    8. Avoid touching surfaces or shared items.
    9. Use disinfectant wipes to clean commonly-touched surfaces.

Staying home in cases of emergency can be dire

Recent data has shown that numbers of patients with severe conditions unrelated to COVID-19 are going down significantly across the country (5). This indicates that those individuals are choosing to stay home for fear of going to a hospital and becoming infected with COVID-19. However, in a recent statement by eight medical groups, including the American College of Emergency Physicians, the American Heart Association, and others, these professionals voiced serious concern over patients who are having heart attacks, strokes, and cardiac arrest avoiding hospitals. They urge individuals experiencing these symptoms to call 911 and go to the hospital immediately in situations of acute illness. Dr. Robert Harrington, president of the American Heart Association, described this as, “the onset of unprovoked severe symptoms that come on and are unremitting” (5). Other such emergency conditions include appendicitis, bowel obstructions, infected gall bladders, and others (6).

If you are in need of these visits, stay safe at your doctor’s appointments. If not, stay home to stay as safe as you can during the pandemic.

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Sources

  1. Pathak, N. (2020, March 30). Should You Go to the Doctor or Hospital During the Coronavirus Pandemic? Retrieved May 1, 2020, from https://www.webmd.com/lung/doctor-hospital-visits-not-coronavirus#2
  2. TodayShow. (2020, April 3). Should you see your doctor or take kids to the pediatrician during the pandemic? Retrieved May 1, 2020, from https://www.today.com/health/should-i-go-doctor-should-i-take-my-kid-pediatrician-t177530
  3. AAP. (2020, April 15). Guidance on Providing Pediatric Ambulatory Services via Telehealth During Covid-19. Retrieved May 1, 2020, from https://services.aap.org/en/pages/2019-novel-coronavirus-covid-19-infections/guidance-on-providing-pediatric-ambulatory-services-via-telehealth-during-covid-19/
  4. TodayShow. (2020, April 1). Older patients are putting off routine care – how to help them get to a doctor. Retrieved May 1, 2020, from https://www.today.com/health/coronavirus-telemedicine-doctors-help-older-americans-keep-medical-appointments-t177332
  5. Howard, J. (2020, April 22). Coronavirus scares too many sick people away from hospitals, doctors say. Retrieved May 5, 2020, from https://www.cnn.com/2020/04/22/health/coronavirus-hospitals-heart-health-statement/index.html
  6. Lenny Bernstein, F. S. S. (2020, April 19). Patients with heart attacks, strokes and even appendicitis vanish from hospitals. Retrieved May 5, 2020, from https://www.washingtonpost.com/health/patients-with-heart-attacks-strokes-and-even-appendicitis-vanish-from-hospitals/2020/04/19/9ca3ef24-7eb4-11ea-9040-68981f488eed_story.html

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