Difference in determinants of ICU admission and death among COVID-19 hospitalized patients in two epidemic waves in Portugal: possible impact of healthcare burden and hospital bed occupancy on clinical management and outcomes, March-December 2020

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Abstract

AIM: Identify factors associated with COVID-19 intensive care unit (ICU) admission and death among hospitalized cases in Portugal, and variations from the first to the second wave in Portugal, March-December 2020.

INTRODUCTION: Determinants of ICU admission and death for COVID-19 need further understanding and may change over time. We used hospital discharge data (ICD-10 diagnosis-related groups) to identify factors associated with COVID-19 outcomes in two epidemic periods with different hospital burdens to inform policy and practice.

METHODS: We conducted a retrospective cohort study including all hospitalized cases of laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 in the Portuguese NHS hospitals, discharged from March to December 2020. We calculated sex, age, comorbidities, attack rates by period, and calculated adjusted relative risks (aRR) for the outcomes of admission to ICU and death, using Poisson regressions. We tested effect modification between two distinct pandemic periods (March-September/October-December) with lower and higher hospital burden, in other determinants.

RESULTS: Of 18,105 COVID-19 hospitalized cases, 10.22% were admitted to the ICU and 20.28% died in hospital before discharge. Being aged 60-69 years (when compared with those aged 0-49) was the strongest independent risk factor for ICU admission (aRR 1.91, 95%CI 1.62-2.26). Unlike ICU admission, risk of death increased continuously with age and in the presence of specific comorbidities. Overall, the probability of ICU admission was reduced in the second period but the risk of death did not change. Risk factors for ICU admission and death differed by epidemic period. Testing interactions, in the period with high hospital burden, those aged 80-89, women, and those with specific comorbidities had a significantly lower aRR for ICU admission. Risk of death increased in the second period for those with dementia and diabetes.

DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSIONS: The probability of ICU admission was reduced in the second period. Different patient profiles were identified for ICU and deaths among COVID-19-hospitalized patients in different pandemic periods with lower and higher hospital burden, possibly implying changes in clinical practice, priority setting, or clinical presentation that should be further investigated and discussed considering impacts of higher burden on services in health outcomes, to inform preparedness, healthcare workforce planning, and pandemic prevention measures.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1215833
Pages (from-to)1215833
JournalFrontiers in public health
Volume11
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2023

Keywords

  • Humans
  • Female
  • COVID-19/epidemiology
  • Portugal/epidemiology
  • Bed Occupancy
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Intensive Care Units
  • Delivery of Health Care
  • Hospitals

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