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People ignoring warning signs of serious illness in order to avoid hospitals

17:38 03/04/2020

UZ Brussel has put out a call to the public to not ignore symptoms of heart failure or stroke because of the current situations in hospitals. The university hospital in Jette, associated with VUB, lost two patients this week because they hesitated to make the trip to the emergency department.

Patients who need routine tests or non-emergency procedures are staying away from hospitals due to the number of hospitalised coronavirus patients. That is understandable, but the phenomenon has extended to those in need of immediate care.

“One patient had to have a leg amputated because of a lack of oxygen due to a narrowing of the artery,” Erik Debing, head of vascular surgery at the hospital, told Bruzz. “Another had a stroke, which has led to some permanent paralysis, while another died of a ruptured artery on the way to surgery.”

All of them had waited too long to seek emergency medical attention because they were not only fearful of entering a hospital full of corona patients, they didn’t want to burden medical staff further. “All of these cases could have been avoided had we seen them in time,” said Dr Debing. “These are shocking stories.”

Debing wants to reassure the public that there is room in local hospitals for everyone who needs urgent care and not to put off getting something checked out. In fact, he emphasises, that should always be the case – during the coronavirus crisis or not.

Photo: Paul-Henri Verlooy/BELGA

Written by Lisa Bradshaw