Prediction of emergency department volume and severity during a novel virus pandemic: Experience from the COVID-19 pandemic.

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During a novel virus pandemic, predicting emergency department (ED) volume is crucial for arranging the limited medical resources of hospitals for balancing the daily patient- and epidemic-related tasks in EDs. The goal of the current study was to detect specific patterns of change in ED volume and severity during a pandemic which would help to arrange medical staff and utilize facilities and resources in EDs in advance in the event of a future pandemic.This was a retrospective study of the patients who visited our ED between November 1, 2019 and April 30, 2020. We evaluated the change in ED patient volume and complexity of patients in our medical record system. Patient volume and severity during various periods were identified and compared with data from the past 3 years and the period that SARS occurred.A reduction in ED volume was evident. The reduction began during the early epidemic period and increased rapidly during the peak period of the epidemic with the reduction continuing during the late epidemic period. No significant difference existed in the percentages of triage levels 1 and 2 between the periods. The admission rate, length of stay in the ED, and average number of patients with out-of-hospital cardiac arrest increased during the epidemic periods.A significant reduction in ED volume during the COVID-19 pandemic was noted and a predictable pattern was found. This specific change in pattern in the ED volume may be useful for performing adjustments in EDs in the future during a novel virus pandemic. The severity of patients visiting the ED during epidemic periods was inconclusive.

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