Local News

Virus fear leads to fewer patients in ERs

Posted April 17, 2020 4:15 p.m. EDT
Updated April 17, 2020 6:08 p.m. EDT

— Doctors at Duke Hospital say they're seeing fewer stroke patients in the emergency department these days – not because fewer people are experiencing symptoms, but because they're avoiding going to the hospital out of fear of getting COVID-19.

“Typically, we see 3 to 4 patients a day that present with stroke symptoms," said Duke's Dr. Jason Theiling, "and now it’s closer to 3.”

Although that may not seem like much of a decrease, Theiling worries this could be the case not just for stroke patients, but for cardiac patients and those with other life-threatening illnesses as well.

“Please don’t stay home," Theiling stressed. "If you have any symptoms, either stroke or heart attack or anything you feel is an emergency - please come to the emergency department."

For those living alone without support, Theiling says EMS can come to your door and bring you in for care. Once you're at the hospital, Duke has precautions in place to protect both patients and medical staff.

When someone is experiencing a stroke or cardiac event, Theiling says, outcomes tend to be better when patients begin receiving treatment quickly. So delay could be costly.

“I don’t want people to have to live with stroke symptoms that we could have been aggressive in help treating," said Theiling, "because patients delayed coming to the hospital or even weeks later.”

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