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Patients fear COVID, leave other ills untreated

Avoiding treatment for fear of catching virus
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Posted at 6:28 PM, Apr 27, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-27 22:16:02-04

TUCSON, Ariz. - Fear of coronavirus is keeping people from getting other medical care they need. That’s the word from a local medical organization.

Doctors hope fear of catching the virus doesn’t lead to other illnesses getting out of control.

A lot of people have embraced the idea of wearing a mask and keeping their distance from other people but some have turned that into keeping too much distance between them and their doctors and that can endanger their health in other ways.

Pictures of medical care in the days before the coronavirus remind us of the close up care of a doctor visit. But doctors say fear of catching coronavirus has patients avoiding doctor visits.

Dr. Roy Loewenstein, is a past President of the Pima County Medical Society. He says he and his colleagues are seeing patient visits drop about forty percent. Sometimes they’re skipping routine maintenance appointments but sometimes they delay checking more severe symptoms.

Dr. Loewenstein says, “I've seen some people with abdominal pain, and trouble breathing, that it would have been nicer to have seen them you know a day or two sooner. The good news is no, there's been nothing catastrophic and there hasn't been any severely adverse outcomes but you know if people would have waited longer something bad could have happened.”

Doctor Loewenstein says patients should understand if you’ve got a major medical problem, leaving it untreated is a bigger risk than the chance of catching the coronavirus.

“If they’ve got, you know, a new type of abdominal pain or trouble breathing that they haven't had before. That's when it might be something serious and contacting their doctor is going to make more sense.”

He says a telehealth visit can handle a lot of problems before they’re severe--- or if you have trouble using telehealth just phoning your doctor can get good advice on what to do next.