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Pediatric ED Now Is Common Among Kids Since COVID-19 Began

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Pediatric ED Now Is Common Among Kids Since COVID 19 Began

COVID’s Impact on Pediatric EDs

Since the start of the pandemic, Pediatric ED emergency departments have experienced an influx of visitors. But even more concerning is the rise of extended visit time among children with behavioral health diagnoses.

Reasons for Extended Stays Findings

Research from the Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Institute found that approximately:

  • 2.5 times as many children with a behavioral health diagnosis
  • 3 times as many children with both physical and mental health diagnoses
  • 4.4 times as many children with complex care needs

stayed in the pediatric emergency department for an extended period between March and May of 2020.

The Effects of Extended Pediatric ED Stays

The effects of these extended Pediatric ED stays can be devastating. Not only do these prolonged visits increase the risk of infection, but also inflict emotional and financial tolls on families. These are especially concerning since many of the individuals experiencing extended visits are facing difficult circumstances even beyond the pandemic.

Much Needed Support about Pediatric ED

It is clear that there is much-needed support for families of children with behavioral health diagnoses, especially in the face of COVID. Here are a few ways that the healthcare community can help:

  • Work to introduce virtual or tele-visit follow-ups
  • Implement family-centered decision-making
  • Seek out pediatricians who have Behavioral Health integration training
  • Provide additional mental health services

COVID is putting an incredible strain on hospitals, especially Pediatric ED emergency departments. It is essential to find ways to provide the best care to children with behavioral health diagnoses, while also prioritizing the safety of patients and staff during the pandemic.


  • Hart, W. (2020, December 10). Prolonged emergency department stays far more common among pediatric patients with mental health issues since COVID-19 started. Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Institute.
  • Miron, A., Akula, J., Latz, S., Ataya, K., and Singer, S. (2020). Supporting families of children with mental/behavioral health needs during COVID-19. AACAP.

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