11% of hospitalized COVID-19 patients are readmitted or die, study finds – National

After examining the records of more than 800,000 Canadian COVID-19 patients, researchers from the University of Alberta found that death or readmission is quite common among those infected with the virus.

In a study published May 16 in the Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ), researchers said this could happen in about 11 percent of patients within 30 days.

“(The percentage) sounds high at first, but it’s actually what we’re seeing in patients who are discharged from general medical settings with pneumonia or influenza and who have many other diseases, such as diabetes,” Finlay McAlister, lead author and professor in medicine from the University of Alberta, Global News’ Su-Ling Goh said in a Zoom interview.

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According to the study, the patients who died were older, with data showing they were over the age of 55, had multiple underlying health conditions and were more likely to be male. They were also discharged with home care or to a long-term care facility and had more prior hospitalizations and emergency room visits.

“It’s just that the underlying disease process is getting worse, or the transition back home isn’t working very well… maybe there aren’t enough services at home, or the patients are more frail than realized by either the patient or the clinical staff.” And patients tend to be hospitalized again,” he said.

Hospital admissions after COVID-19 are common and costly, the study finds. As a result, McAlister said knowing the readmission rate after a COVID-19 hospitalization and the reasons people end up back in the hospital can help in planning health care.

“Identifying risk factors for premature readmission or death is important for physicians caring for patients and also for system planners trying to decide which patients require additional resources upon discharge,” McAlister said in a press release.

The researchers examined data on all adults hospitalized for COVID-19 between January 1, 2020 and September 30, 2021 in Alberta and Ontario — the two provinces that make up half of the population in Canada.

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Of the total 843,737 people who tested positive by the PCR test, 5.5 percent (46,412) of the adults were hospitalized. The average length of stay was eight days.

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14 percent were in intensive care at some point during the hospital stay, and 18 percent (8,496) died in hospital.

Eleven percent of patients discharged alive were readmitted or died within 30 days of discharge, the study showed, and nearly half of those readmissions were for lung problems.

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The study also showed that death and readmission were more common among the unvaccinated.

Of the patients who died or were hospitalized, 91 percent in Alberta and 95 percent in Ontario were unvaccinated.

“One of the takeaways from the study…was that vaccines work…vaccines reduced hospitalizations by 78 percent and mortality by 60 percent, which is a huge benefit of vaccines,” McAlister said.

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The authors noted in the study that their data did not capture cases of “Long COVID” or the effects of the virus affecting patients months after the initial illness.

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However, McAlister said, based on emerging evidence, vaccines appear to reduce the chance of getting long COVID.

Survivors of COVID-19 had “remarkably” lower health status than the general population after two years, according to a new study published in the Lancet Journal in early May.

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After two years, according to the report, 55 percent still had at least one COVID-19 after-effect.

“Our results show that for a certain proportion of hospitalized COVID-19 survivors, it takes more than two years to fully recover from COVID-19,” the researchers said.

The Public Health Agency of Canada and Statistics Canada said relatively little is known about the effects of long COVID, also known as the post-COVID-19 condition, including how to diagnose it.

As a result, the agency launched a survey in early May to try to get a general idea of ​​how commonly people experience lingering effects after contracting COVID-19, which are difficult to identify and even more difficult to track.

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“There are many reasons to get vaccinated, not just to reduce the likelihood of acute illness… And we expect that once we have enough numbers, we’ll see fewer readmissions in vaccinated individuals who recover from COVID recover,” he said.

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The Government of Canada website states that Canada’s vaccination coverage is high on May 13 as 84.86 percent of the population has been vaccinated with at least one dose.

In the past two weeks, 10,344 received their first dose, 27,388 completed their primary vaccination course and 140,796 aged 12 and over received an additional dose, according to the government.

McAlister said future research is needed to examine the trend of resumption in vaccinated individuals.

– With files from Global News Su-Lin Goh, The Canadian Press and Reuters

© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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