Precautions Now to Prevent a Hospital Stay Later

Updated: Nov. 5, 2020 at 10:33 PM CST
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LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD) - Last year, about 8% of adults in this country delayed or neglected medical care because of the cost. This year, the CDC estimates at least 40% of Americans have delayed or cancelled a medical appointment because of the pandemic.       

Dr. Timothy Miller is a Gastroenterologist who says putting off important health care could lead to a hospital stay that might have been prevented.       

He says it all started in March, when a growing fear of COVID-19 was fueled in part by an order from the governor to ban elective surgeries. Dr. Miller says, “No one could put a glove on unless you were dealing with a dying patient.”

Now, in November, with our hospitalization rate at 23 percent, we are faced with the same order from the governor... no elective surgeries.     

And Dr. Tim Miller says patients are going to pay the price because they don’t understand what that means. He says, “People are so afraid to be in a health care setting right now, that they’re ignoring other potentially dangerous signs of other illnesses.”         

Elective surgery means something you can plan when it’s convenient for you, as opposed to a surgery that is urgent.      

Elective surgery does not include a long list of outpatient surgeries and *screenings which should continue as scheduled.       

Dr. Miller explains, “Mamos, pap smears, colonoscopy, those are all out-patient so the current hospitalization rate is not affecting screening patients.”

Dr. Miller’s specialty is preventing colon cancer with colonoscopy screenings, but fear of COVID-19 has brought repeated cancellations since March. He adds, “There’s been 40% less cases diagnosed as a whole bases now compared to then. So does that mean there’s 40% less cancer?”

And he says cancer is not the only threat to patients who delay or cancel doctor visits. Cardiologists are seeing the same thing, patients coming in with shortness of breath and advanced heart disease after ignoring the signs because they didn’t want to be exposed to COVID-19.

Watch the story to hear more from Dr. Miller and important advice on how to avoid a hospital stay before you need urgent surgery.

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