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03.03.2021 | original article | Ausgabe 7-8/2021 Open Access

Wiener klinische Wochenschrift 7-8/2021

Impact of lockdown during the COVID-19 pandemic on number of patients and patterns of injuries at a level I trauma center

Wiener klinische Wochenschrift > Ausgabe 7-8/2021
MD Arastoo Nia, MD Domenik Popp, Cornelia Diendorfer, MD Sebastian Apprich, MBBS Alexandru Munteanu, MD Stefan Hajdu, MD, PhD Harald K. Widhalm
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The outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-Cov-2) and its associated illness, coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), has led to a global health crisis burdening frontline emergency departments, including orthopedic and trauma units. The aim of this study was to provide an overview of the impact of the lockdown secondary to the pandemic on patient numbers and pattern of injuries at the department of traumatology of the Medical University of Vienna.


This retrospective, descriptive study identified all patients admitted and enrolled onto the trauma registry at a level I trauma center, between 15 March 2020 and 30 April 2020 (lockdown) and compared them to those between 15 March 2019 and 30 April 2019 (baseline). Variables collected included patient age, sex, reason for hospital admission, place of injury, death, injury severity score (ISS), as well as American Society of Anaesthesiologists (ASA) score.


A total of 10,938 patient visits to the trauma emergency department were analyzed, 8353 presentations during the baseline period and 2585 during lockdown. Only 1869 acutely injured and 716 follow-up patients presented during lockdown, compared to 6178 and 2175, respectively, during baseline. Throughout the COVID-19 lockdown there were significant reductions in both workplace and traffic accidents, sports injuries, number of hospitalized patients, and overall visits to the trauma emergency department; however, the number of major traumas and hip fractures remained similar. Furthermore, there was a significant increase in the frequency of injuries at home as well as hospital admissions due to attempted suicide.


Despite the reduction in total number of patients, trauma departments should continue to provide adequate service during lockdown considering that severe injuries showed no change. Conditions such as breakdown of social networks and limited access to mental health care and support might account for the significant rise in hospital admissions due to suicides. We recommend that more attention and effort should be made to prevent this excess of suicide deaths.

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