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Open Access Publications from the University of California

SARS-CoV-2 Infection and Associated Rates of Diabetic Ketoacidosis in a New York City Emergency Department


Introduction: In early March 2020, coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) spread rapidly in New York City. Shortly thereafter, in response to the shelter-in-place orders and concern for infection, emergency department (ED) volumes decreased. While a connection between severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infection and hyperglycemia/insulin deficiency is well described, its direct relation to diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) is not. In this study we describe trends in ED volume and admitted patient diagnoses of DKA among five of our health system’s EDs, as they relate to peak SARS-CoV-2 activity in New York City.

Methods: For the five EDs in our hospital system, deidentified visit data extracted for routine quality review was made available for analysis. We looked at total visits and select visit diagnoses related to DKA, across the months of March, April and May 2019, and compared those counts to the same period in 2020.

Results: A total of 93,218 visits were recorded across our five EDs from March 1–May 31, 2019. During that period there were 106 diagnoses of DKA made in the EDs (0.114% of visits). Across the same period in 2020 there were 59,009 visits, and 214 diagnoses of DKA (0.363% of visits)

Conclusion: Despite a decrease in ED volume of 26.9% across our system during this time period, net cases of DKA diagnoses rose drastically by 70.1% compared to the prior year.

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