2020

Opinion: "Should COVID Still Force us to Postpone Elective Surgery or Forgo a Trip to the ER?"


Dr. Jonathan Fielding shares his perspective on whether the pandemic should lead to postponements of elective surgery or forgoing a trip to the ER.

In March, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) urged people to stay away from crowded emergency rooms and put-off elective surgery, including heart procedures, to reduce potential coronavirus exposure. As early as April, doctors worried that people experiencing life-threatening emergencies were avoiding hospitals. Those fears were validated.

In Boston, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center’s March/April data showed heart attack hospitalizations down by 33 percent, stroke hospitalizations down by 58 percent, and referrals for breast and blood cancers down by more than 60 percent from the two months prior. Even those who experienced a heart attack or stroke avoided hospitals; one study showed a 38 percent drop in patients treated for ST-Elevation Myocardial Infarction, a life-threatening narrowing of a vital artery to the heart.

By June, 41 percent of Americans reported having had avoided some care due to Covid fears. The CDC found that emergency visits across the U.S. declined 23 percent for heart attacks from March to May and 20 percent for strokes. Though the World Health Organization (WHO) still urges people to avoid routine dental and health care visits, following that guidance can produce unintended consequences, some long term.

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Faculty Referenced by this Article

Dr. Jonathan Fielding
Jonathan Fielding
Health Policy and Management
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Dr. Anthony Schiff
Anthony Hunter Schiff
Health Policy and Management
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Dr. Jennifer Wortham
Jennifer Wortham
Health Policy and Management
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Diana Hilberman
Diana Hilberman
Health Policy and Management
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Dr. Risha Gidwani
Risha Gidwani
Health Policy and Management
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Isomi Miake-Lye
Isomi Miake-Lye
Health Policy and Management
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Dr. Samuel Sessions
Samuel Sessions
Health Policy and Management
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Julie A. Elginer

EMPH Academic Program Director with expertise in healthcare marketing, finance, and reproductive health policy, teaching in the EMPH, MPH, MHA program

Health Policy and Management
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Avram Kaplan
Avram Kaplan
Health Policy and Management
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Dr. Naomi Zewde
Naomi Zewde
Health Policy and Management
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Roshan Bastani
Health Policy and Management
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Patricia Ganz
Patricia Ganz
Health Policy and Management
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Emily Abel
Health Policy and Management
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David Hayes-Bautista
Health Policy and Management
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Pamela Davidson
Health Policy and Management
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Freund, Deborah
Deborah Anne Freund
Health Policy and Management
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Dr. Lillian Gelberg
Lillian Gelberg
Health Policy and Management
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Dr. Thomas Rice
Thomas Rice
Health Policy and Management
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Mangione, C
Carol Mangione
Health Policy and Management
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Susan Ettner
Health Policy and Management
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Michelle Keller
Michelle S. Keller

Dr. Michelle S. Keller is a health services researcher whose research focuses on the use and prescribing of high-risk medications.

Health Policy and Management
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Dr. John Lu
Z. John Lu
Health Policy and Management
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Lori Pelliccioni
Health Policy and Management
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Moira Inkelas
Moira Inkelas
Health Policy and Management
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Yusuke Tsugawa
Yusuke Tsugawa
Health Policy and Management
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Arlene Fink
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Xi Zhu
Health Policy and Management
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Michael Galper
Health Policy and Management
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Warren Scott Comulada
Health Policy and Management
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Beth Glenn
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Neal Halfon
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Paul Chung
Health Policy and Management
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Clifford Ko
Clifford Ko
Health Policy and Management
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Olivia Jung
Olivia Jung
Health Policy and Management
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Dr. Elizabeth (Becky) Yano
Elizabeth (Becky) Yano
Health Policy and Management
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Corrina Moucheraud
Corrina Moucheraud
Health Policy and Management
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Paul Fu, Jr.
Health Policy and Management
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Dr. Dylan Roby
Dylan Roby
Health Policy and Management
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Jean Balgrosky
Health Policy and Management
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Dr. Stephanie Taylor
Stephanie L. Taylor

Nationally recognized health services researcher and sociomedical scientist with 25+ years' experience in effectiveness and implementation research.

Health Policy and Management
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Steven Teutsch
Health Policy and Management
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Kadiyala, Srikanth
Srikanth Kadiyala
Health Policy and Management
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William J. McCarthy
Health Policy and Management
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Ty Robbins
Health Policy and Management
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Michael Ong
Michael Ong
Health Policy and Management
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Dr. Aria Fallah
Aria Fallah
Health Policy and Management
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Dr. Arturo Vargas Bustamante
Arturo Vargas Bustamante
Health Policy and Management
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Brennan Spiegel
Health Policy and Management
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Aronberg, Sandra
Sandra Aronberg
Health Policy and Management
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James Macinko
James Macinko

Professor of Community Health Sciences & Health Policy and Management, and Associate Dean for Research

Community Health Sciences Health Policy and Management
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Dr. Yvonne Flores
Yvonne Flores
Health Policy and Management
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Ron Andersen

Dr. Ron Andersen is the Wasserman Professor Emeritus in the UCLA Departments of Health Policy and Management.

Health Policy and Management
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Dr. Frederick Zimmerman
Frederick Zimmerman
Health Policy and Management
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Nadereh Pourat
Nadereh Pourat
Health Policy and Management
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Linda Rosenstock
Environmental Health Sciences Health Policy and Management
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Daniel Eisenberg
Health Policy and Management
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Health Policy and Management
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Vickie Mays
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Jeanne Miranda
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Gerald Kominski
Health Policy and Management
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Thomas D. Gordon
Health Policy and Management
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Annette Maxwell
Health Policy and Management
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Robert Kaplan
Health Policy and Management
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Dr. Felicia Hodge
Felicia Hodge
Health Policy and Management
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Ron D. Hays
Ron D. Hays

@UCLA since 1997

Health Policy and Management
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Dr. Ninez Ponce
Ninez Ponce
Health Policy and Management
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Dr. Joann Elmore
Joann G. Elmore
Health Policy and Management
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Laura Erskine
Laura Erskine
Health Policy and Management
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Jack Needleman
Jack Needleman
Health Policy and Management
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Dr. Kenneth Wells
Kenneth Wells
Health Policy and Management
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Sangeeta Ahluwalia
Sangeeta Ahluwalia
Health Policy and Management
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Dr. Alice Kuo
Alice Kuo
Health Policy and Management
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Comanor, Bill
William Comanor
Health Policy and Management
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Leah Vriesman
Leah Vriesman
Health Policy and Management
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Kristen Choi
Health Policy and Management
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Burt Cowgill
Burt Cowgill
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Barbara Berman
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Jose J. Escarce
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Mark Litwin
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Robert Brook
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Jody Heymann
Epidemiology Health Policy and Management
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Emmeline Chuang
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