The impact of the SARS COV-2 pandemic on pediatric accesses in ED: A Healthcare Emergency Information System analysis

PLoS One. 2022 Aug 5;17(8):e0272569. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0272569. eCollection 2022.


Background: The Emergency Department (ED) services play a fundamental role in managing the accesses of potential Sars-Cov-2 cases. The aim of this study is to evaluate the impact of the SARS COV-2 pandemic on pediatric accesses in Emergency Department of Lazio Region.

Methods: The population includes all pediatric accesses (0-17 years) in the ED of Lazio Region during 2019 and 2020. Accesses were characterized by age, week and calendar period. Four periods were defined: pre-lockdown, lockdown, post-lockdown and the second wave. The trend of ED accesses (total or for specific cause) in 2020 (by period and week) were compared to them occurred in 2019. ED visits have been described by absolute frequency and percentage variation. Percentage variation of adult was also reported to compare the trend in adult and young population. The Chi-square test was used to compare characteristics of admissions in 2019 and 2020.

Results: There is a large decrease of pediatric accesses in 2020 compared to 2019 (-47%), especially for younger age-classes (1-2 years: -52.5% and 3-5 years: -50.5%). Pediatric visits to ED in 2020 decreased following the same trend of adults, but more drastically (-47% vs -30%). ED accesses for suspected COVID-19 pneumonia trend show different characteristics between children and adults: in adults there is an increase in 2020, especially during the 2nd wave period (+321%), in children there is a decrease starting from the lockdown period to the achievement of the lowest level in December 2020 (-98%).

Conclusions: This descriptive study has identified a decrease of total pediatric accesses in ED in 2020 compared to 2019 and a different trend of accesses by adult and young population especially by cause. The monitoring of paediatric accesses could be a useful tool to analyse the trend of COVID-19 pandemic in Italy and to reprogramming of the healthcare offer according to criteria of clinical and organizational appropriateness.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • COVID-19* / epidemiology
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Communicable Disease Control
  • Delivery of Health Care
  • Emergency Service, Hospital
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Information Systems
  • Pandemics*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • SARS-CoV-2

Grants and funding

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