Injury-Related Pediatric Emergency Department Visits in the First Year of COVID-19.

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DOI: 10.1542/peds.2021-054545


OBJECTIVES: To describe the epidemiology of pediatric injury-related visits to children's hospital emergency departments (EDs) in the United States during early and later periods of the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) pandemic.

METHODS: We conducted a cross-sectional study using the Pediatric Health Information System, an administrative database to identify injury-related ED visits at 41 United States children's hospitals during the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic period (March 15, 2020 to March 14, 2021) and a 3 year comparator period (March 15-March 14, 2017-2020). For these 2 periods, we compared patient characteristics, injury type and severity, primary discharge diagnoses, and disposition, stratified by early (March 15, 2020 to June 30, 2020), middle (July 1, 2020 to October 31, 2020), and late (November 1, 2020 to March 14, 2021) pandemic periods.

RESULTS: Overall, ED injury-related visits decreased by 26.6% during the first year of the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic, with the largest decline observed in minor injuries. ED injury-related visits resulting in serious-critical injuries increased across the pandemic (15.9% early, 4.9% middle, 20.6% late). Injury patterns with the sharpest relative declines included superficial injuries (41.7% early) and sprains/strains (62.4% early). Mechanisms of injury with the greatest relative increases included (1) firearms (22.9% early; 42.8% middle; 37% late), (2) pedal cyclists (60.4%; 24.9%; 32.2%), (3) other transportation (20.8%; 25.3%; 17.9%), and (4) suffocation/asphyxiation (21.4%; 20.2%; 28.4%) and injuries because of suicide intent (-16.2%, 19.9%, 21.8%).

CONCLUSIONS: Pediatric injury-related ED visits declined in general. However, there was a relative increase in injuries with the highest severity, which warrants further investigation.

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