Providence researchers suggest deferred care has led to higher inpatient mortality

Providence, one of the largest health systems in the nation, published findings today demonstrating appreciable declines in unplanned hospitalizations along with an increase in hospital mortality for a broad mix of medical conditions during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The research published in the Journal of Hospital Medicine, shows that patients without COVID-19 hospitalized during pandemic-related surges experienced a higher rate of in-hospital mortality than that observed in the pre-pandemic period.

“These findings are sobering and illustrate the perils of delaying care for acute illness.  It is important for patients to seek out medical care when needed,” said the study’s co-author Ari Robicsek, MD, chief medical analytics officer at Providence, “We can also assure patients that our emergency rooms are safe. Previous research confirms that you are not more likely to acquire COVID-19 while visiting an emergency room.”

Providence cares for 5 million patients per year. Researchers examined hospitalization rates along with changes in in-hospital mortality at 51 hospitals across six western states.  The study specifically evaluated patients without COVID-19 seeking emergency care for 30 conditions during the first 10 months of the pandemic and found:

  • Unplanned hospitalizations declined steeply during two major COVID-19 surges (down by 47.5% during the first and by 25% in the second).
  • While volumes declined, adjusted in-hospital mortality saw relative increases by more than 20% during both periods.
  • The observed increase in hospital mortality was seen in nearly all conditions studied.

“Serving at the intersection of innovation and compassion, Providence believes in the power of data and the importance of shared learnings,” said co-author Dr. Ty Gluckman, MD, “Our findings reinforce the need for timely evaluation of acute medical illnesses and the harm that comes from medically distancing.” This research expands on Dr. Gluckman’s previous study, which found an increase in mortality among patients admitted to the hospital with a heart attack during the COVID-19 pandemic.

About Providence 
Providence is a national, not-for-profit Catholic health system comprising a diverse family of organizations and driven by a belief that health is a human right. With 52 hospitals, over 1,000 physician clinics, senior services, supportive housing, and many other health and educational services, the health system and its partners employ more than 120,000 caregivers serving communities across seven states – Alaska, California, Montana, New Mexico, Oregon, Texas, and Washington, with system offices in Renton, Wash., and Irvine, Calif. Learn about our vision of health for a better world at



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