Covid-19: Lockdown fatigue blamed for 2021 spike in hospital trauma admissions

The number of people visiting hospital with major trauma was higher during 2021’s level 4 Covid-19 lockdown than the year prior.

Researchers say that may have been linked to “lockdown fatigue” and poorer compliance with restrictions.

Research published in the New Zealand Medical Journal on Friday compared trauma admissions to Auckland City Hospital during the 2020 (March 26-April 27)​ and 2021 (August 18-September 21)​ lockdown periods.

The number of trauma-related admissions to Auckland City Hospital was up during the 2021 level 4 lockdown when compared to 2020, leading doctors to believe people's behaviour was more similar to pre-Covid behaviour than the compliance seen with the first lockdown. (File photo )

Chris McKeen/Stuff

The number of trauma-related admissions to Auckland City Hospital was up during the 2021 level 4 lockdown when compared to 2020, leading doctors to believe people’s behaviour was more similar to pre-Covid behaviour than the compliance seen with the first lockdown. (File photo )

The research, carried out by Auckland City Hospital trauma service clinical director Ian Civil, trauma fellow Sunder Balasubramaniam and trauma registrar Keith Teo, found trauma admissions increased by 97 to 105​ and trauma calls from 35 to 46​ when comparing when 2020 and 2021 lockdowns.

READ MORE:
* Hospital trauma admissions saw ‘rebound’ after short-lived drop during high Covid alert levels
* Covid-19: Lockdown traffic higher than last year as tests and jabs drive motorists to the roads
* Increase in calls to St John for gunshot and stab wounds

They said this suggested societal behaviour in 2021 was more similar to pre-Covid behaviour than was the case in 2020. This raised the possibility future lockdowns “may prove progressively less effective”, they said.

A trauma incident includes falls, motor vehicle and motorbike crashes, people being hit by vehicles, stabbings, and gunshots, among others.

The report noted there was a decline in trauma admissions during the 2020 lockdown in Aotearoa and internationally.

In 2020, the Midland region saw a 36.5%​ reduction in injury admissions during the 2020 lockdown compared to similar periods from 2017-19.

Christchurch Hospital reported a 42%​ reduction in major trauma during the 2020 lockdown compared to the 33 days prior.

A decline in trauma admissions during the 2020 lockdown, when everyone was hunkering down at home, was reflected nationally and internationally. However, these appeared to tick up again in Auckland during the 2021 lockdown. (File photo)

Christel Yardley/Stuff

A decline in trauma admissions during the 2020 lockdown, when everyone was hunkering down at home, was reflected nationally and internationally. However, these appeared to tick up again in Auckland during the 2021 lockdown. (File photo)

In the Northern region (covering the Northland and three Auckland DHBs), there was a 25%​ decrease in major trauma admissions in the 2020 lockdown compared to the same period in 2019.

However, the picture changed during Auckland’s 2021 level 4 Delta lockdown, the researchers found.

The comparison showed increased trauma-related hospital admissions and calls in the 2021 lockdown, despite there being similar public health restrictions in place.

The numbers of injured men and road-related injuries requiring admission increased from 49 to 66​ and from 21 to 28​, respectively, in 2021 compared to 2020.

Future public health restrictions for Covid-19 may not be well tolerated by the population, and may result in more trauma-related admissions compared to previous lockdowns, the researchers concluded. (File photo)

Eunika Sopotnicka

Future public health restrictions for Covid-19 may not be well tolerated by the population, and may result in more trauma-related admissions compared to previous lockdowns, the researchers concluded. (File photo)

Major trauma admissions increased from 13 to 23​ in the 2021 lockdown compared to 2020.

Traffic counts during the alert level 4 lockdown in 2021 were also higher compared to the lockdown in 2020.

The differences between the method of injuries were not statistically significant, but falls remained the most common traumatic injury in both lockdown and non-lockdown periods.

The researchers said poorer compliance with public health restrictions during 2021’s lockdown – with breaches widely reported in media – was potentially reflected in the greater number of trauma-related admissions.

The doctors also said trauma service resources should be maintained at non-lockdown levels to ensure adequate care of trauma patients in future.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.