The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on otolaryngologic emergency department visits at two major NYC hospital systems

Viraj M. Patel, Evan Kominsky, Tristan Tham, Danielle Bottalico, Michael Setzen, Denisa Ferastraoaru, Nadeem Akbar, Judd H. Fastenberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Purpose: Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, emergency departments (ED) across the country have seen a significant decrease in patient visits. We aim to evaluate the impact of COVID-19 on ED visits for acute otolaryngologic complaints in New York City, one of the first epicenters of the pandemic in the US. Materials and methods: We conducted a retrospective study of patients who presented to the ED with a primary diagnosis of an acute otolaryngologic complaint between March 1 and May 31 in 2019 and 2020. This was a multicenter study, including two tertiary care hospital systems encompassing Manhattan, Bronx, Queens, and Long Island. Results: A total of 10,162 patients were identified. Significantly fewer patients presented to the ED for acute otolaryngologic complaints in 2020 (7332 vs 2830, p < 0.001). The rate of total otolaryngology-related ED visits was decreased by a factor of 0.635 (95% CI 0.6079 to 0.6634). In a subgroup analysis of each individual diagnosis, there was a significant decrease in rate of ED visits for 13 out of 18 diagnoses, including for life-threatening conditions, such as anaphylaxis. There was no significant difference based on which borough in New York City. Pediatric patients (age 0–17) were more significantly impacted by the pandemic compared to other age groups. Conclusion: The COVID-19 pandemic has led to a reduction in the utilization of ED for acute otolaryngologic complaints, including those requiring emergent management, and an even more significant reduction in the pediatric population. Healthcare providers should encourage patients to seek appropriate care, particularly for those illnesses with significant associated morbidity and mortality.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number103123
JournalAmerican Journal of Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Medicine and Surgery
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 1 2021


  • COVID-19
  • ENT
  • Emergency
  • Otolaryngology
  • Pandemic

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Otorhinolaryngology


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