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    Flooded with Omicron patients, ER struggles to treat other urgent problems: Shot

    People and cars are lined up outside the Boston Medical Center near the emergency room where the COVID-19 test was being performed during the Omicron surge in Boston on January 3, 2022.

    Stan Gross Felt / Boston Globe via Getty Images


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    Stan Gross Felt / Boston Globe via Getty Images

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    People and cars are lined up outside the Boston Medical Center near the emergency room where the COVID-19 test was being performed during the Omicron surge in Boston on January 3, 2022.

    Stan Gross Felt / Boston Globe via Getty Images

    Omicron’s surge is clogging the hospital’s emergency room with patients waiting long or even days to get a bed.

    “We are absolutely crushed,” he says. Dr. Gabor Keren, Chairman of Emergency Medicine, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Maryland.

    Nationally, daily COVID hospitalizations have increased by about 33% this week from the previous week, with more than 155,000 hospitalized with COVID-19, well above last winter’s record.

    However, these numbers do not capture the pressure on the emergency room. Before those patients land in hospital beds, many of them go through the emergency room for treatment.

    The emergency department essentially acts as a shock absorber for a huge wave of infection and triages all types of patients, from severe to those who may not need to be hospitalized at all.

    “We’re like an open place for everyone, isn’t it? It’s the only place you can go without a reservation,” says Keren.

    This is another symptom of relentless stress on the health care system, as it suffers from staff shortages, backed up care needs, and vast amounts of new infections.

    Part of the increased load on ER comes from patients seeking coronavirus testing that cannot be found elsewhere. In some hospitals, cars line up for hours to get tested, and hospitals set up tents to handle the tests. Still, some patients still enter the ER for testing.

    “All the emergency departments in our hospital have been hit hard this time,” he says. Dr. Arock Sengputa, Chairman of Emergency Medicine, a hospital in St. Louis, run by Mercy.

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    On January 3, 2021, nurses walk through a temporary emergency room built into the parking lot of Providence Cedars-Sinital Zana Medical Center in Tarzana, California. Since Thanksgiving, cases have increased until 80% of hospitals are full. Patients with Covid-19, 90% of ICUs are filled with Covid-19.

    Apu Gomes / AFP via Getty Images


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    Apu Gomes / AFP via Getty Images

    er slammed getty 1230421258 f325effe0d425387e43b8b0ff339f5f72bd30dad s1200

    On January 3, 2021, nurses walk through a temporary emergency room built into the parking lot of Providence Cedars-Sinital Zana Medical Center in Tarzana, California. Since Thanksgiving, cases have increased until 80% of hospitals are full. Patients with Covid-19, 90% of ICUs are filled with Covid-19.

    Apu Gomes / AFP via Getty Images

    Omicron may be mild, but the patient’s load is not

    Studies have shown that the use of Omicron may reduce the incidence of severe illness.However, this reduction in severity is more than offset by the vast number of patients infected because Omicron is so contagious. Dr. Gillian Schmitz, President of the American University of Emergency Medicine.

    “The percentage of people who have symptoms is enough to quickly overwhelm the hospital,” Schmitz says. “In addition, we still have everything that normally takes people to the emergency department, such as the same car accident and appendicitis.”

    Some recent studies from the US and abroad Indicates the possibility of severe illness It is low compared to Delta.

    In fact, researchers at Kaiser Permanente in Southern California found that patients infected with Omicron were about 50% less likely to be hospitalized compared to Delta. New research Released this week as a preprint of nearly 70,000 patients. These are similar to previous findings by researchers at Case Western Reserve University.

    However, Omicron could cause the same life-threatening complications as COVID-19, especially in unvaccinated and most at-risk patients, simply because it may be less severe than Delta. I am. Dr. Greg Miller, Chief medical officer of Vituity, a nationwide doctor dispatching company.

    “It seems that unvaccinated people are appearing in Omicron, but there are still quite ill patients,” he says.

    Also, due to the large number of patients, the Omicron wave is worse than the previous hospital wave, although the overall severity is low. Casey Clements, ER Physician at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota.

    “I think this is the most dangerous and most likely to destroy the system in the coming weeks,” he says.

    er slammed getty 1230541638 custom e48ae2b3edaec5ce0499cfc727d9fddcd97fafc0 s1100 c50

    Healthcare professionals will take care of patients with COVID-19 at the COVID Retention Pod at the Providence St Mary Medical Center in Apple Valley, California, January 11, 2021.

    Ariana Drehsler / AFP via Getty Images


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    Healthcare professionals will take care of patients with COVID-19 at the COVID Retention Pod at the Providence St Mary Medical Center in Apple Valley, California, January 11, 2021.

    Ariana Drehsler / AFP via Getty Images

    Long wait times and serious consequences

    Backups in the ER are partly due to the fact that too many patients are already using beds in the hospital and space cannot be easily freed up.

    “Patients admitted from the emergency department cannot go upstairs,” says Keren. “So they stay long and take up all the acute care beds in the emergency department, which means that everyone else waits in the waiting room.”

    When the ER is overloaded, the most direct result is that the patient has to wait longer and longer to receive treatment.

    Dr. Ruth Franks Snedecor, a hospitalist in Phoenix, Arizona, said ER wait times have doubled in 2020 and doctors are seeing one-third of patients.

    “”What we are dealing with in the first month of 2021 is unsustainable, “she says.

    In the case of COVID-19, special attention should be paid to pile-up because the ER needs to follow infection control measures and separate patients so that they do not infect other patients. And with so many patients clogging the waiting room, it’s difficult to prioritize a true emergency.

    “”I had the longest waiting time I’ve ever seen, “says Sengupta in St. Louis.

    This is felt seriously in the emergency room where Dr. Bradley Dreyfus works in Tucson, Arizona.

    “Our hospital is completely full. We can’t accept patients,” he says. “It leads to a big delay in care and the patient sitting in the waiting room, eventually leaving and getting sick again.”

    In Colorado, the situation is so bad that the ambulance is operating underneath. New crisis protocolWhere some patients may not be taken to the hospital if their condition is not considered serious enough.

    Many hospitals are very full and are detouring, according to Schmitz. That is, it does not accept ambulance traffic or movement. The patient is then stuck in the ER, waiting for the hospital bed to open.

    “You may be in the emergency department bed, not only when you were already in a very bad condition, but probably for a few days,” said Keren of Johns Hopkins.

    In other situations, patients who need to be transferred from one ER to another for a higher level of emergency care are stuck. Snecedor says he sees this in Phoenix because the system is so flooded.

    “They just sit there and die or have a long-term adverse effect related to the fact that they didn’t get the care they needed when they needed it,” she says. “And everyone knows that time is important for many of these symptoms, such as strokes and heart attacks.”

    Flooded with Omicron patients, ER struggles to treat other urgent problems: Shot

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