Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Trauma-Related Attendances at the Emergency Department

Yoong CSY and Chia MYC

Published on: 2022-03-19


Introduction: Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, healthcare systems have undergone a redistribution of manpower and resources to address the increased healthcare demands. Yet, trauma care must not be compromised due to the life- and limb-threatening implications of delayed treatment. This study evaluates the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the epidemiology of trauma-related attendances at an emergency department (ED) in Singapore.

Methods: A retrospective analysis was conducted on all trauma patients (N=1393) who presented at an ED in Singapore during the pre-COVID-19 (1st April-31st August 2019) and COVID-19 (1st April-31st August 2020) periods. Data including patient demographics, mechanisms and epidemiology of injuries, and injury severity scores (ISS) were compared between the two periods.

Results: The number of trauma-related ED attendees in 2019 (N=931) was twice that in 2020 (N=462). August 2019 (N=205, 22.0%) and 2020 (N=136, 29.4%) saw the highest number of attendances. Falls, vehicular accidents, and injury by tools remain the three most common mechanisms of injury in both periods. Of which, the proportion of falls increased (p<0.05) while the proportion of vehicular accidents (p>0.05) and injury by tools (p<0.05) decreased during the pandemic. Majority of traumatic injuries were of moderate severity in 2019 (N=703, 75.5%) and 2020 (N=347, 75.1%).

Conclusion: Despite a decrease in trauma-related attendances during the pandemic, EDs should prepare to attend to patients with injuries from falls, vehicular accidents, and tools. EDs should anticipate traumatic injuries of moderate severity as well. Understanding the needs of the trauma unit during the pandemic can facilitate resource allocation, workflow delegation, and improve safety and morbidity outcomes of trauma-related attendees.