U.S. COVID-19 patients have long hospital stay, high ICU admission rate: study

A study conducted by the University of California, Berkeley shows that U.S. COVID-19 patients' probabilities of ICU admission, long hospital stay, and mortality were identified to be high.

The findings, published recently in the British Medical Journal (BMJ), suggest that U.S. hospitals may be more severely affected by COVID-19 than had been expected. And average hospital length of stay for patients in the U.S. is longer than those in China. 

The research data was based on "residents of California and Washington states enrolled in Kaiser Permanente healthcare plans, who were admitted to hospital with COVID-19." The paper was titled: "Incidence, Clinical Outcomes, and Transmission Dynamics of Severe Coronavirus Disease 2019 in California and Washington: Prospective Cohort Study." 

Previously, projections of the burden of COVID-19 were based on Chinese data, such as the number of beds needed at the peak time of the outbreak. The first author of the study Joseph Lewnard, who is an assistant professor of Epidemiology at UC Berkeley School of Public Health, said the researchers found that China's observations may not provide an adequate basis for predicting the health needs of the U.S. 

Joseph Lewnard and other researchers analyzed hospital length of stay and clinical outcomes of 1,328 people admitted by April 9, which included 534 in northern California, 711 in southern California, and 83 in Washington.  

"The 11-day estimated mean duration of hospital stay for patients who are discharged alive is consistent with observations in China," said in the paper. However, they estimated a 15-day mean duration of stay among non-survivors, whereas in China non-survivors had a shorter length of hospital stay (7.5 days) than survivors. 

The study finds that incidence rates of new hospital admissions have stabilized or declined in conjunction with the implementation of social distancing interventions since late March.  

The spread of COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on local health systems varies in different countries, said Vincent Liu, one of the researchers of the paper.  

(Cover image: Cumulative incidence and daily incidence of first acute inpatient admissions in 2020 with confirmed coronavirus disease 2019 among participants with Kaiser Permanente health plans. Shaded regions (10 April onwards) indicate admission dates when participants were excluded from analyses of clinical outcomes (duration of hospital stay, admission to intensive care units, and case fatality risks) owing to limited follow-up duration. /Screenshot from the BMJ)