Sun H, et al. Aging Clin Exp Res 2020.
BACKGROUND: The potential differences between a clinical diagnosis of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) (i.e., symptoms without positive virus test) and a microbiological diagnosis (i.e., positive virus test results) of COVID-19 are not known.
AIMS: This study explored the differences between the two types of COVID-19 diagnosis among older patients in terms of clinical characteristics and outcomes.
METHODS: A total of 244 inpatients aged ≥ 60 years with COVID-19 were included in this study, of whom 52 were clinically diagnosed and 192 were microbiologically diagnosed. Clinical and laboratory data on hospital admission and outcomes (discharged or died in hospital) of all patients were retrieved from medical records retrospectively. Patients who met the criteria for clinical diagnosis with negative virus test results were assigned to the clinical diagnosis group, whereas those with positive virus test results were assigned to the microbiological diagnosis group. After univariate analyses, two propensity score analyses [i.e., covariate adjustment using propensity score (CAPS) and propensity score matching (PSM)] were conducted to control bias.
RESULTS: The clinical and microbiological diagnosis groups demonstrated significant differences in outcomes and in the majority of laboratory findings. After propensity score analyses, many differences between the two groups disappeared and the rate of mortality had no statistically significant difference (P = 0.318 and 0.828 for CAPS and PSM, respectively).
CONCLUSIONS: Patients with similar signs, symptoms, and laboratory and imaging findings as confirmed COVID-19 cases may have a similar mortality risk, regardless of the virus test results, and require timely intervention to reduce their mortality.