Musculoskeletal Attendances to a Minor Injury Department During a Pandemic
Introduction: As coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) became a public health emergency of international concern, countries across the globe began to instate strict social distancing restrictions or “lockdowns”. During these times emergency departments in the United Kingdom (UK) recorded a significant drop in patients attending when compared to the same months of previous years. Attendances related to musculoskeletal (MSK) trauma also saw a significant drop in numbers Objective: The purpose of this retrospective audit was to investigate patterns of injuries attending during the pandemic and more specifically during times of lockdown. Method: Retrospective audit data was collected from an electronic medical record system (MediTech V6) during the time period of the first lockdown in the UK. Data was collected for patients attending the emergency department at the Queens Hospital Burton site of the University Hospitals of Derby and Burton National Health Service (NHS) Trust. Presenting complaints were recorded for the entire emergency department, and diagnosis on discharge and activity status was recorded for minor injuries only. This data was then compared to the same date from 2019. Results: Overall attendances in the emergency department decreased by 45.42% during the first lockdown when compared to the same time period in 2019. MSK problems also saw a significant drop as back pain decreased by 58.88%, neck pain fell by 78.52% and limb problems decreased by 59.74%. When comparing data from the minor injury department, limb problems decreased by 20.45%. The number of soft tissue injuries decreased by 24.05% and fractures decreased by 7.96%. Conclusion: Attendances in the emergency department were greatly reduced during the COVID-19 pandemic, especially during the first lockdown. The rates of fractures and soft tissue injuries within the minors’ area of the emergency department were also reduced but not at the same rate as the overall attendance. A large number of fractures and soft tissue injuries still presented to the emergency department despite reduced national activity. These attendances may be as a result of the increased rate of Do It Yourself (DIY)-related injuries and altered patient/social behaviour due to lockdown, social distancing, and seasons/weather. Further research would be required to investigate the changing patterns of behaviour especially as we enter a second wave of cases.
- Trauma and Orthopaedics