Impact of COVID-19 pandemic on emergency psychiatry-Millcreek community hospital, Erie, PA.

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OBJECTIVE: Evidence suggested that traumatic events, including pandemics, can be associated with psychiatric symptoms like increased anxiety and depression. However, there were many unknowns concerning the emergent global coronavirus-19 (COVID-19), including its impact on psychiatric health within the United States. Our study aimed to track trends of mental health problems in individuals who presented with psychiatric complaints in an emergent setting.

METHODS: A total of 1776 patients and 1610 patients presented to Emergency Department (ED) with psychiatric complaints between January 1 - July 9 of the years of 2019 and 2020, respectively, in Millcreek Community Hospital (MCH) Erie, PA. This study was an electronic medical record review (EMR), therefore the data were collected exclusively from EMR over the two-year span. ED prevalence was calculated as the number of total psychiatric MCH ED cases divided by the total number of all MCH ED patients, and prevalence ratio (PR) between 2019 and 2020 was used to reflect change of overall ED psychiatric prevalence.

RESULTS: Clinical notes revealed increased ED psychiatric chief complaint prevalence, as indicated by a PR greater than one, in multiple categories in comparison to before the COVID-19 outbreak. Concerning primary psychiatric disorders, there was increased ED prevalence in chief complaint of total mood disorders (PR = 1.21) with major depressive disorder (PR = 1.23) and bipolar disorder (PR = 1.47), neurodevelopment disorders (PR = 1.25) with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) (PR = 1.19) and intellectual disability (PR = 1.52), trauma- and stressor-related disorders (PR = 1.56) with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) (PR = 1.39) and adjustment disorder (PR = 1.73), substance abuse and addiction disorders (PR = 1.29), and personality disorders (PR = 1.56).

CONCLUSIONS: The pandemic outbreak dramatically impacted mental health in an ER setting. Further research on mental health disparities in conjunction with the COVID-19 pandemic is critical to help predict and address risk for chronic symptoms and sequela to help anticipate and improve psychiatric patient care and well-being during potential future pandemics.



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Medicine and Health Sciences




Department of Medicine, Department of Medicine Fellows and Residents, Fellows and Residents

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