Impact of the COVID-19 shutdown on orthopedic trauma numbers and patterns in an academic Level I Trauma Center in Berlin, Germany

PLoS One. 2021 Feb 16;16(2):e0246956. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0246956. eCollection 2021.


Background: The COVID-19 pandemic led to the implementation of drastic shutdown measures worldwide. While quarantine, self-isolation and shutdown laws helped to effectively contain and control the spread of SARS-CoV-2, the impact of COVID-19 shutdowns on trauma care in emergency departments (EDs) remains elusive.

Methods: All ED patient records from the 35-day COVID-19 shutdown (SHUTDOWN) period were retrospectively compared to a calendar-matched control period in 2019 (CTRL) as well as to a pre (PRE)- and post (POST)-shutdown period in an academic Level I Trauma Center in Berlin, Germany. Total patient and orthopedic trauma cases and contacts as well as trauma causes and injury patterns were evaluated during respective periods regarding absolute numbers, incidence rate ratios (IRRs) and risk ratios (RRs).

Findings: Daily total patient cases (SHUTDOWN vs. CTRL, 106.94 vs. 167.54) and orthopedic trauma cases (SHUTDOWN vs. CTRL, 30.91 vs. 52.06) decreased during the SHUTDOWN compared to the CTRL period with IRRs of 0.64 and 0.59. While absolute numbers decreased for most trauma causes during the SHUTDOWN period, we observed increased incidence proportions of household injuries and bicycle accidents with RRs of 1.31 and 1.68 respectively. An RR of 2.41 was observed for injuries due to domestic violence. We further recorded increased incidence proportions of acute and regular substance abuse during the SHUTDOWN period with RRs of 1.63 and 3.22, respectively.

Conclusions: While we observed a relevant decrease in total patient cases, relative proportions of specific trauma causes and injury patterns increased during the COVID-19 shutdown in Berlin, Germany. As government programs offered prompt financial aid during the pandemic to individuals and businesses, additional social support may be considered for vulnerable domestic environments.

MeSH terms

  • COVID-19 / epidemiology*
  • COVID-19 / prevention & control
  • Fractures, Bone / classification
  • Fractures, Bone / epidemiology*
  • Fractures, Bone / etiology
  • Germany
  • Hospitals, University / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Quarantine / statistics & numerical data*
  • Trauma Centers / statistics & numerical data*

Grant support

The author(s) received no specific funding for this work.