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COVID-19; non-COVID patients; Italy; National Health System;
Background Italy has been one of the countries most affected by the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic and the regional healthcare system has had to quickly adapt its organization to meet the needs of infected patients. This has led to a drastic change in the routine management of non-communicable diseases with a potential long-term impact on patient health care. We investigated the management of non-COVID-19 patients across all medical specialties in Italy.
Methods A PRISMA guideline-based systematic review of the literature was performed using PubMed, Embase, and Scopus, restricting the search to the main outbreak period in Italy (from 20 February to 22 June, 2020). We selected articles in English or Italian that detailed changes in the Italian hospital care for non-COVID-19 patients due to the pandemic. Our keywords included all medical specialties in combination with our geographical focus (Italy) and COVID-19.
Results Of the 4643 potentially eligible studies identified by the search, 247 studies were included. A decrease in the management of emergencies in non-COVID patients was found together with an increase in mortality. Similarly, non-deferrable conditions met a tendency toward decreased diagnosis. All specialties have been affected by the reorganization of healthcare provision in the hub-and-spoke system and have benefited from telemedicine.
Conclusions Our work highlights the changes taking place in the Italian public healthcare system to tackle the developing health crisis due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The findings of our review may be useful to analyze future directions for the healthcare system in the case of new pandemic scenarios.
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