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The Impact of the SARS-CoV-2 Pandemic on the Emergency Department and Management of the Pediatric Asthmatic Patient

Authors Bover-Bauza C, Rosselló Gomila MA, Díaz Pérez D, Millán Pons AR, Gil Sánchez JA, Peña-Zarza JA, Figuerola Mulet J, Osona B

Received 4 November 2020

Accepted for publication 1 January 2021

Published 3 February 2021 Volume 2021:14 Pages 101—108

DOI https://doi.org/10.2147/JAA.S284813

Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 2

Editor who approved publication: Dr Amrita Dosanjh


Catalina Bover-Bauza,1,2 Maria Antonia Rosselló Gomila,1 David Díaz Pérez,1 Aina Rosa Millán Pons,3 Jose Antonio Gil Sánchez,1,2 Jose Antonio Peña-Zarza,1,4 Joan Figuerola Mulet,1,2 Borja Osona1,2

1Division of Pediatric Respiratory Medicine, Department of Pediatrics, University Hospital Son Espases, Palma, Balearic Islands, Spain; 2Multidisciplinary Research Group in Pediatrics, Balearic Islands Health Research Institute (IdISBa), Palma, Balearic Islands, Spain; 3Department of Statistic and Methodological Support, Balearic Islands Health Research Institute (IdISBa), Palma, Balearic Islands, Spain; 4Research Group in Sleep Apnea and Hypopnea Syndrome, Balearic Islands Health Research Institute (IdISBa), Palma, Balearic Islands, Spain

Correspondence: Catalina Bover-Bauza
Division of Pediatric Respiratory Medicine, Department of Pediatrics, University Hospital Son Espases Carretera Valldemossa 79, Palma, 07120, Spain
Tel +34 871205000
Fax +34 871909712
Email catalina.bover2@ssib.es

Introduction: Asthma exacerbation is among the commonest causes for pediatric emergency room visits, and respiratory viruses are frequent triggers of such exacerbations. Few studies have evaluated the consequences of the novel human coronavirus that causes the illness currently known as COVID-19, in the pediatric population.
Purpose: The objective of this study was to analyze the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown measures on the emergency department in the pediatric asthmatic patient.
Patients and Methods: This retrospective observational study evaluated pediatric patients treated at the Pediatric Emergency Service for wheezing episodes. Changes in the number and characteristics of these patients over the same period of 2019 as compared to 2020 during the month following the alarm declaration (March 14 to April 15) were evaluated.
Results: In total, data of 30 asthma patients managed in the period after the declaration of the coronavirus pandemic and of 158 asthma patients managed in the pre-COVID-19 period were included. In 2020, patient visits decreased by 82% in 2019. No statistically significant differences among age, sex, oxygen saturation, fever status, or number of severe bronchospasm episodes were found. Nebulized medication usage was reduced significantly since the alarm declaration. No significant increase in requests for complementary testing in the COVID-19 period was found. No patient requiring hospital admission was found to be PCR SARS-CoV-2 positive. Median time spent in the emergency department decreased from 180 minutes in 2019 to 85 minutes in the COVID-19 era.
Conclusion: The COVID-19 pandemic and ensuing lockdown measures have led to an extraordinary reduction in emergency visits to the pediatric service. The ongoing pandemic has also led to improvements in the approach to asthma exacerbations and wheezing, to reduce the risk of exposure to the virus, such as increased use of pressurized metered dose inhaler and decreased time in the Emergency Department.

Keywords: COVID-19, pandemic, asthma, wheezing, children

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