Fear of hospitals may be behind increase in non-coronavirus deaths

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People who need medical care for urgent, non-coronavirus-related health issues may be hesitant to seek it due to fear of contracting the disease, Medtronic Executive Chairman Omar Ishrak said Monday.

“We’re actually seeing an increase in mortality rate which are non-Covid related because of a lack of heart failure and stroke procedure, amongst other procedures,” Ishrak said on CNBC’s “Squawk on the Street.” 

Ishrak, who became executive chairman Monday after retiring as CEO, said the medical-devices company is focused on ensuring patients “who need care get care.” Many hospitals remain prepared to care for patients with these urgent health needs, he said. 

“Hospitals want to assure patients that if they have an issue, dial 911 and get to the hospital,” Ishrak said. “They need that treatment.” 

Earlier this month, CNBC reported that physicians across the U.S. were expressing worry that people may be avoiding the emergency room, or other essential doctor’s office visits, because of fear of the coronavirus. 

One factor influencing the decline in emergency room visits is the stay-at-home orders implemented in states across the country.  

Ishrak noted that Medtronic’s business has been impacted by the reduction in hospital procedures during the Covid-19 outbreak, particularly as elective procedures that use the company’s products are postponed. 

When business will return is “difficult to predict and almost impossible to be correct about it at this point,” Ishrak said. 

“We do think in health care, especially the urgent cases, the ones that I just mentioned, the recovery will happen quite quickly. It will have to,” he said.

“The mortality rates are increasing at a rate that is not acceptable by anyone, and I’m sure we will work together to address that problem,” he added. “We just cannot let that happen.” 

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