Dr. David Baulenas, Vithas corporate healthcare and research director

The delay in going to the doctor for fear of covid-19 is already a serious public health problem

Due to the state of alarm, many patients with pathologies other than covid-19 have stopped going to the doctor, for fear of contagion. This supposes a serious problem for the health of said patients, that when delaying the visit to the doctor their pathologies are aggravated, resulting in a worse evolution and prognosis.

This situation is reflected in the dramatic decrease in attendance at consultations and emergencies. For example, care for patients with angioplasty in acute infarction has been reduced by 40%, patients treated for stroke have been reduced by 30%, and the number of patients with appendix perforations ( that is, with complications of appendicitis ) has doubled, as we have seen in the Vithas hospital network.

These data, coinciding with other studies, show that many patients suffer acute episodes of serious pathologies at home, with serious consequences that may be irreversible.

As warns Dr. David Baulenas, Vithas corporate healthcare and research director, “We are treating these pathologies later than we usually do because the patients wait at home until they can no longer. However, there are a whole series of reasons for consultation in the emergency department that we should not delay due to its potential risk. Confinement, messages not to leave home and fear of going to hospitals can take its toll if we do not alert us to this situation.”

Globally, there are already recent studies that even warn of the adverse effects that confinement measures and fear of infection in health centers can have on the child population, which may even increase their mortality.

The importance of early care to avoid complications

In the case of many pathologies, it is of great importance that they are addressed at an early stage in order to receive an appropriate diagnosis and treatment, otherwise the delay in going to the specialist or emergencies can mean a significant worsening of the health and condition of the patient. Therefore we want patients not to stop coming to these consultations in case of need.

At Vithas we work so that the patient can go to their Hospitals with guarantees, applying the maximum security measures, with differentiated circuits, control measures for patients and professionals, social distancing, special cleaning measures and everything that makes them safe environments.

Vithas Safe Surgeries

As Dr. Baulenas affirms, “Delaying these consultations worsens their evolution and prognosis. Patients can safely go to our hospitals, because we have the best guarantees of quality and safety, with different circuits for patients with covid-19 for the benefit of everyone’s safety”.

Health problems that are aggravated by the delay in going to the specialist

Next, we indicate some of the pathologies and medical specialties for which there has been a decrease in treated cases or for which patients come later than they should due to fear of contagion, but that nevertheless it is of great importance that they be diagnosed and treated as soon as possible:

  • Cardiovascular pathologies: such as angina, and heart attacks, transient ischemic accidents… During the pandemic there are 40% fewer angioplasties in cases of acute myocardial infarction. As Dr. David Baulenas indicates, “It is very worrying that people endure at home if they suffer from this pathology. In some cases the pain subsides, but it leaves wounds in the heart that we will see later, even in routine check-ups, in the form of heart failure or other post-infarction sequelae”. The mortality and complications of these heart conditions decrease if patients go to the emergency room in time.
  • Stroke: the situation is similar to that of cardiac pathologies, with 30% fewer patients who come for this pathology, and in the same way it’s early treatment is of great importance. The consequences of not going to the specialist in these cases can worsen the sequelae such as instability, loss of strength, speech disorders, urinary incontinence or others.
  • Diabetes: it is having a special impact on those patients who have not yet been diagnosed, who, faced with nonspecific and unknown symptoms, decide to wait at home despite being able to suffer extreme levels of glycemia without knowing it, which can have serious consequences. Some of the most serious complications in case of not going to the specialist on time are hypoglycemia and hyperglycemia.
  • Other chronic diseases: especially in elderly people. This is the case of high blood pressure, diabetes, chronic lung disease or heart failure. Early care of these decompensations also avoids subsequent admissions and complications.
  • Abdominal pain: including appendicitis, cholecystitis, pancreatitis, or obstructive uropathy. These situations require urgent evaluation to avoid major complications, if they are not early attended, the outcome can be fatal.
  • Ophthalmology: cases seen in the emergency department have also been reduced, despite the fact that early care can avoid complications that can lead to vision loss. In the event of the appearance of symptoms that may indicate retinal or vitreous detachments, such as acute changes in vision, in the form of spots or “flying flies” or flashes; or pain, typical of other eye diseases such as acute narrow-angle glaucoma, it is important to see the specialist as soon as possible.
  • Oncology: According to the results of a study carried out in the Netherlands published in the scientific journal The Lancet on April 30, a decrease in the diagnosis of non-skin cancer of 60% and skin cancer of 25% was observed. However, early detection is essential to be able to treat these cases with good expectations of success, so these consultations should not be delayed if necessary.

Vithas hospitals are safe hospitals

Vithas’ 20 hospitals are safe hospitals for patients and professionals thanks to the implementation of strict safety protocols against covid-19. Among the measures implemented, the establishment of two different circuits stands out: one for people with symptoms compatible with covid-19, and the other for other patients.

Additionally, we supply masks and hydroalcoholic gel to all people who come to the hospital for any reason. In addition, the Group is carrying out massive virus detection tests on all personnel, who are equipped with all the necessary self-protection measures.

A security that has always been reinforced thanks to the fact that all Vithas hospitals implement the strict protocols of the Joint Commission International, world reference body that accredits patient safety and healthcare excellence.

For more information: https://preparadosparacuidarte.com/