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Postponing Basic Health Care During the Pandemic

May 27, 2022

Did you know that more than 16% of people surveyed said they postponed routine health checkups in the past few months due to the COVID-19 pandemic?

People Skipping Doctor Visits can Mean Serious Illness

The age group delaying health checkups the most was individuals aged 30–49 years (21%). And nationally, a review of 306 hospitals in 28 states showed that colonoscopies dropped 86% and breast, and cervical exams fell 94% compared to levels in January to April 2017 to 2019. By June 2020, weekly rates stayed at 29 to 36% of expected totals.

More than a third of nonelderly adults (36%) and 29% of children in the U.S. have delayed or canceled care because of concerns of being exposed to COVID-19 or providers limiting services due to the pandemic. Significantly, of these folks, more than 75% had one or more chronic health conditions, and a third said the result of not getting treatment was worsening health or limiting their ability to work and perform regular daily activities.

Patients Also Skipping Medicine Doses and Screenings

In a national survey of 1,337 people across the United States, 41% said they skipped doses of prescription medications, preventive medical care, and elective procedures from March through mid-July 2020.

Delayed screenings can result in worse outcomes and more aggressive treatment, which adds to the toxicity of care and expense to the patient.

Time Magazine reports that in a survey of 1,093 participants (a representative sample of the U.S. public), with 78% of respondents said they’d put off at least some medical services during the past three months of pandemic. Of those procedures, 15% of people said they were missing appointments with specialists, including orthopedists, dermatologists and—most significantly—cardiologists. Approximately 655,000 people in America lose their lives each year to cardiovascular disease. Experts say that even a fraction of heart disease patients are missing their regular cardiology visits during the pandemic, there could be an increase in that overall mortality number in the ensuing years.

A similar trend could occur with those patients missing routine cancer screenings. Doctors are concerned about an increase in morbidity and mortality due to cases of cancer being detected too late. These delays or forgoing medical checks may cause significant harm later. For example, the possible results of a failure to diagnose include the following:

  • Delayed or no treatment.
  • Worsening of symptoms.
  • Worsening of the condition.
  • Increased physical pain and discomfort.
  • Emotional distress and anxiety.
  • More medical bills and expenses.
  • Temporary or permanent disability.
  • An inability to work.

Make sure that you see your regularly and take your prescribed medications as directed.

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The Buchanan is a full-service personal injury law firm in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

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