Corona patients facing higher rates of ICU admission in US: Study


New York, May 27 (IANS): Hospitalised COVID-19 patients in the US are enduring longer hospital stays and facing higher rates of intensive care unit (ICU) admission than patients in China, a new study reveals.

The results, published in the journal The BMJ, suggest that hospitals in the US may be harder hit by the coronavirus pandemic than initially thought, as many forecasts of disease burden -- particularly the number of hospital beds and ICU units needed at the peak of infection -- are based on data out of China.

"The hospital resources needed to meet the needs of severely ill patients are substantial. We found that observations from China may not provide a sufficient basis for anticipating the US health care demand," said study lead author Joseph Lewnard from the University of California.

The research team analysed the anonymised medical records of the nearly 9.6 million Kaiser Permanente (Health care company) members in Southern California, Northern California and Washington state. The study focused on 1,277 Kaiser Permanente members who were hospitalised with clinically or laboratory-confirmed cases of COVID-19 between the start of the year and early April.

The findings showed that 42 members required care in the ICU, and 18 per cent died from the disease. Modelling estimates based on observations in China usually assume that only about 30 per cent of hospitalised patients will require ICU care.

Similarly, the data showed that hospital stays lasted an average of 10.7 days for survivors and 13.7 days for non-survivors, compared to an average of 7.5 days among non-survivors in China.

Troublingly, 25 per cent of patients were hospitalised for 16 days or more. In comparison, a widely-used modelling study from Imperial College London projecting health care needs assumes an average stay of eight days. While the underlying reasons for these discrepancies remain unclear, the authors stress the need to collect data in different regions and under different health care settings and caution against heavy reliance on models based on data from other countries.

The analysis also revealed that the virus tends to hit older people the hardest. Approximately 50 per cent of hospitalisations were among adults aged 60 and older, and 25 per cent were among adults aged 73 and older. Similarly, hospitalised men seemed to be hit harder than women: Hospitalised males over the age of 80 faced a 58 per cent risk of death and hospitalised females of the same age faced only a 32 per cent risk of death.

The team also found that the transmission rate of the virus has decreased significantly, and the drop began slightly before statewide shelter-in-place orders went into effect in late March. This effect is likely due to the implementation of smaller-scale social distancing measures, such as local restrictions on gatherings and individuals' compliance with safety recommendations, in the weeks prior to the statewide orders, the authors said.

Currently, the country has 1,681,418 confirmed cases and 98,929 deaths, both tallies account for the highest in the world, according to John Hopkins University data tracker.

 

  

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