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Hospitalization Trends Early in the Epidemic

By October 20, 2023Commentary

A statistical brief from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality examines hospitalization trends early in the epidemic.  During this period there were a lot of hospitalizations, many probably not necessary and many wrongly listed as being CV-19 admissions, for people with CV-19, but there were also impacts on hospitalizations for other diseases.  The brief compares hospitalizations in the period April to November in 2020 versus 2019.  Total hospitalizations actually declined while in-hospital mortality rose, but almost all of these deaths occcurred among the very elderly in poor health with short remaining lifespans in any event.

In terms of primary cause of hospitalization, the largest drop in number was for osteoarthritis (probably a lot of joint replacements), pneumonia and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (both likely substituted for by CV-19) and heart failure.  By percent the biggest drops were influenza, asthma, unspecified respiratory disease and bronchitis, all likely reflective of CV-19 substitution.  Some other trends apparent in the report are the decline in what might be referred to as elective procedures needing a hospitalization and for those with disease conditions in which neglected care, including hospitalization, may result in worsening health status.  And we see, for example, declines in in-hospital deaths for heart attacks and heart failure, consistent with other evidence showing an increase in such deaths occurring at home.  The terror campaign kept people from going to ERs when they had obvious symptoms of worsening.  (AHRQ Brief)

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