Experts fear ‘collateral damage’ as patients postpone health care
Share article:
Share article:

Experts fear ‘collateral damage’ as patients postpone health care

© Macau Photo Agency via Unsplash

The postponement of non-essential health care in times of pandemic could have collateral damage that makes itself felt long after the initial emergency is over, according to a study from the universities of Louvain-la-Neuve and Leuven.

The problem of renunciation of care – where sick people decide not to seek medical help – is well known in the health sector, but is normally related to financial difficulties, the cost of care or the need to stop working.

However, the current situation is rather different. Now there are two reasons why people decide not to visit the doctor or the specialist: voluntary and involuntary.

On the one hand, patients take it upon themselves to cancel appointments already made, or simply avoid seeking help. The reasons may be to avoid contact with other sick people at the clinic for fear of contracting the virus or simply to avoid adding extra work to the burden of the medical system.

According to the study, that behaviour in the first wave of the epidemic in Belgium affected mainly appointments with specialists, with 54% of those questioned having cancelled or simply missed an appointment with a specialist, compared with only 22% of appointments with generalists.

Related News

 

On the other hand, as we are now seeing, non-essential care is being screwed back to allow hospitals to concentrate their resources on an explosion of Covid-19 cases, so even patients who would be willing to see a specialist are not able to.

However, the need for care does not go away with a lack of opportunity. A person who is ill will, in general, continue to be ill. And the postponement of a case will only make matters worse, leading to a deterioration of the condition as time passes.

This deterioration is all the more important when people are in poor health: people with a chronic disease see their state of health deteriorate more quickly than people without chronic disease,” the study states. Thus delays, cancellations and foregone health care can increase the risk of morbidity and mortality.”

The study, among 3,200 patients online, may only show part of the picture, the authors warn. Because it was conducted online, the results may exclude social groups who are less likely to use online media but not less likely to suffer the consequences of renunciation of care.

The consequences of unfinished medical care are likely to be even greater in less socially advantaged subgroups of the population,” the study says. “Indeed, they will accumulate not only a waiver of medical care for financial reasons but also a waiver due to confinement.”

The study concludes by calling for a system aimed at bringing those patients who have missed out on a case for one reason or another back to the clinic.

We need to deal quickly with those who have missed out on testing opportunities. We need to create a comprehensive public health plan and make sure not to wait too long.”

The study is published in Regards économiques, a journal of the UCLouvain.

Alan Hope
The Brussels Times

Latest news

Anti-vaxxers demonstrate against Covid Safe Ticket in Brussels
Hundreds of supporters of the anti-vaxx movement gathered on Saturday outside the headquarters of the Pfizer pharmaceutical company to protest ...
Belgium’s investment funds total 260 billion euros in assets
Belgium’s funds industry grew by 5.3% (13 billion euros) in the second quarter of this year, bringing investment funds available to the public to ...
Brussels to Luxembourg by train in two hours soon possible
The fastest train ride between Brussels and Luxembourg currently takes almost three hours, but that could be slashed to about two hours thanks to the ...
Daily Covid infections up by almost 30% in Belgium
Between 6 and 12 October, an average of 2,438 people were infected with the Covid-19 virus every day, according to figures from the Sciensano public ...
Over 80,000 companies in Belgium non-compliant with anti-money laundering meassures
Over 80,000 companies and non-profits in Belgium are still not compliant with the Ultimate Business Owner (UBO) register, which is required of them ...
Increase in tax exemption for donations in Belgium fails to meet expectations
The increase from 45% to 60% in the tax exemption for donations, decided by the former federal government in June 2020, has cost Belgium more than ...
Sex workers in Belgium to get more social rights protection
The social rights of sex workers will soon be better protected in Belgium, Belga News Agency reports. The Council of Ministers has approved a draft ...
Belgian firms sent almost 266 billion euros to tax havens last year
Hundreds of Belgian firms sent close to 266 billion euros to tax havens last year, De Tijd reported on Saturday. Any Belgian individual or firm ...
Belgian investigator wins prestigious US prize
Olivier Hardy, an investigator with the federal police’s anti-terrorist unit in Brussels, DR3, received on Friday a "Top Cop" prize in Washington for ...
Pegasus Project: European Parliament awards journalism prize to investigation of use of spyware
The Daphne Caruana Prize for Journalism was awarded on Thursday to the journalists from the Pegasus Project coordinated by the Forbidden Stories ...
Belgians can now test their knowledge of driving rules and win prizes
The Walloon Road Safety Agency (AWSR) launched on Friday a quiz to allow the general public to test their knowledge of the highway code. Last year, ...
600 extras wanted for film about Belgian ‘Porn King’ and notorious Antwerp nightclub
A Belgian movie telling the story of a notorious Antwerp nightclub with connections to a Belgian 'Porn King' is looking for 600 extras at the end of ...