Treat all COVID 19-positive patients, but do not forget those negative with chronic diseases

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The outbreak of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) has distressed our working practice. Infectious disease specialists, pneumologists and intensivists were not enough to face the enormous amount of patients that needed hospital care; therefore, many doctors have been recruited from other medical specialties trying to take care of as many patients as possible. The ‘call to duty’ of such doctors for urgent COVID-19 cases, however, diverted the attention from the care of patients with chronic conditions, which might have been neglected or undervalued. In this extremely difficult time, the standard of care of chronic patients has been reduced and this might have determined an increased rate of complications secondary to undermanagement. Thousands of patients with acute and chronic non-COVID-19 conditions have not accessed specialist care in the last weeks in Italy. Moreover, even those patients who have had scheduled an outpatient visit did not attend it for fear of leaving their home or due to the inability to go. During the pandemic, there was a drastic reduction in the number of hospital admissions for any medical conditions different from COVID-19. Self-presentation to the emergency department (ED) has been discouraged and the patients’ own fear of being infected by going to the hospital led to also a significant decrease in ED access. During the lockdown, in San Giuseppe Hospital MultiMedica IRCCS, Milan, the ED admissions dropped from the mean of 2361/month in December 2019–February 2020 to 1102 (− 53%) and 861 (− 63%) in March and April 2020, respectively. For all the above-mentioned reasons, it is possible that some clinical conditions will further progress with a significant increase in morbidity and mortality. To prevent this, it is essential that patients with chronic conditions should be at least monitored and managed with telephone or online health consultation, identifying those who need urgent access to care, prioritizing outpatient visits based on disease severity. Patients with mild conditions could be managed outside the hospital by implementing telemedicine and creating networks of general practitioners who can consult with in-hospital specialists.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)787-790
Number of pages4
JournalInternal and Emergency Medicine
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Aug 1 2020


  • Chronic disease
  • COVID-19
  • Emergency department
  • SARS-CoV-2

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Internal Medicine
  • Emergency Medicine


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