The Impact of the SARS-CoV-2 Pandemic on the Emergency Department and Management of the Pediatric Asthmatic Patient.J Asthma Allergy. 2021; 14:101-108.JA
Asthma exacerbation is among the commonest causes for pediatric emergency room visits, and respiratory viruses are frequent triggers of such exacerbations. Few studies have evaluated the consequences of the novel human coronavirus that causes the illness currently known as COVID-19, in the pediatric population.
The objective of this study was to analyze the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown measures on the emergency department in the pediatric asthmatic patient.
Patients and Methods
This retrospective observational study evaluated pediatric patients treated at the Pediatric Emergency Service for wheezing episodes. Changes in the number and characteristics of these patients over the same period of 2019 as compared to 2020 during the month following the alarm declaration (March 14 to April 15) were evaluated.
In total, data of 30 asthma patients managed in the period after the declaration of the coronavirus pandemic and of 158 asthma patients managed in the pre-COVID-19 period were included. In 2020, patient visits decreased by 82% in 2019. No statistically significant differences among age, sex, oxygen saturation, fever status, or number of severe bronchospasm episodes were found. Nebulized medication usage was reduced significantly since the alarm declaration. No significant increase in requests for complementary testing in the COVID-19 period was found. No patient requiring hospital admission was found to be PCR SARS-CoV-2 positive. Median time spent in the emergency department decreased from 180 minutes in 2019 to 85 minutes in the COVID-19 era.
The COVID-19 pandemic and ensuing lockdown measures have led to an extraordinary reduction in emergency visits to the pediatric service. The ongoing pandemic has also led to improvements in the approach to asthma exacerbations and wheezing, to reduce the risk of exposure to the virus, such as increased use of pressurized metered dose inhaler and decreased time in the Emergency Department.