ENT Referral From Emergency Department During COVID-19: A Single-Center Experience.

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COVID-19 pandemic transformed the health system response worldwide. The aim of this study is to report changes about numbers and reason for ENT consultations in emergency department (ED) during COVID-19 pandemic comparing with those occurred the previous year (2019).Data about patients admitted to adult and pediatric ED were collected from March 1 to May 31, 2019 and 2020. Patients referred for urgency from general practitioners were excluded from the study.Global ED admission (except for dyspnea or COVID-19-related symptoms) dramatically decreased during pandemic (-50.9% among adults and -71.4% among pediatrics). At the same time, ENT consultancy significantly reduced too, by 71.5% (P < .01) among adults and 45.1% (P < .01) for pediatrics. Among adults, it was reported a statistically significant decrease in consultation for ear problems (-88.5%, P = .0146). Reduction in ENT referral for bone fracture (-40%, P = .059), vertigo (-77.8%, P = .637), and tonsillitis (-87.5%, P = .688) was consistent, but not significant. Among pediatric patients, it was observed an increase by 25% about foreign bodies (12 vs 15, P < .01). A reduction in numbers of consults for ear problem (-90.8%; P = .045), epistaxis (-80%; P = .196), and nasal fracture (-70%; P = .36) was also observed.Fear of infection and the forced lock down caused a significant decrease in the number of ED accesses and in ENT consultancy. These data may suggest that some ED referral usually could be deferred, but on the other hand, pandemic will cause a great diagnostic delay.

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