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Doctors warn delaying medical care amid pandemic fears could have long-term risks

Posted at 5:24 AM, Nov 19, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-19 05:46:25-05

(WXYZ) — If you’re someone who’s said “I should get that looked at” but haven’t made the appointment yet, doctors at Detroit Medical Center have an important message for you.

Whether it’s something small or more serious, even in the midst of a pandemic, waiting can cause major problems.

Hospitals are seeing many surgical cases coming into the ER, indicative of people delaying important appointments and screenings – then rushing when the problems become too serious.

That’s why DMC is reminding people that COVID or not, their staff is here, trained, and ready to help you so that minor concerns don’t land you in the emergency room.

“We have implemented a lot of new processes. There is active, robust screening at every entrance, at every DMC hospital right now," said Dr. Patricia Wilkerson-Uddyback, Vice President, Academic & Community Affairs at Detroit Medical Center.

Dr. Uddyback understands that for many people right now, the hospital just isn’t an ideal place to visit, but sadly she and her staff are seeing the dangerous affects of putting off check-ups, screenings and other procedures.

“We are seeing people coming into the hospital after they have delayed care. They are coming in sicker. They are coming in with more complications," Dr. Uddyback.

Back in May, the Michigan Academy of Family Physicians urged people around the state to not ignore healthcare needs during the pandemic.

“Not seeking necessary healthcare out of fear of getting COVID-19 is actually more dangerous than the virus itself," said Dr. Kristen Sumners, President of the Michigan Association of Osteopathic Family Physicians.

The group suggests contacting your provider to see if your healthcare needs can be addressed via phone or by video.

They also released a list of care that under no circumstances should be postponed.

In June, the CDC found that 4 in 10 adults reported avoiding medical care because of concerns related to COVID-19.

And while skipping a screening or a doctor’s appointment may feel like it makes sense as Michigan’s health systems report surging COVID-19 cases, the long-term risks aren’t worth it, Dr. Uddyback says.

“If they would have come in six months earlier they would have had something minor. They’re coming in now and they’re much much worse.”

If the big concern is avoiding those who could have COVID-19, two things to keep in mind:

  • One is that DMC, and other health systems for that matter, have strict measures in place to keep COVID patients safely quarantined.
  • Secondly, by delaying care, you run the risk of spending far more time in the hospital, and likely money than you’d planned for.