Eur Respir J. 2020 Aug 3:2002130. doi: 10.1183/13993003.02130-2020. Online ahead of print.
INTRODUCTION: The Coronavirus 2(SARS-CoV-2) outbreak spread rapidly in Italy and the lack of intensive care unit(ICU) beds soon became evident, forcing the application of noninvasive respiratory support(NRS) outside the ICU, raising concerns over staff contamination. We aimed to analyse the safety of the hospital staff, the feasibility, and outcomes of NRS applied to patients outside the ICU.
METHODS: In this observational study, data from 670 consecutive patients with confirmed COVID-19 referred to the Pulmonology Units in nine hospitals between March 1st and May 10th,2020 were analysed. Data were collected including medication, mode and usage of the NRS (i.e. high-flow nasal cannula (HFNC), continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP), noninvasive ventilation(NIV)), length of stay in hospital, endotracheal intubation(ETI) and deaths.
RESULTS: Forty-two health-care workers (11.4%) tested positive for infection, but only three of them required hospitalisation. Data are reported for all patients (69.3% male), whose mean age was 68 (sd 13) years. The PaO2/FiO2 ratio at baseline was 152±79, and the majority of patients (49.3%) were treated with CPAP. The overall unadjusted 30-day mortality rate was 26.9% with 16%, 30%, and 30%, while the total ETI rate was 27% with 29%, 25% and 28%, for HFNC, CPAP, and NIV, respectively, and the relative probability to die was not related to the NRS used after adjustment for confounders. ETI and length of stay were not different among the groups. Mortality rate increased with age and comorbidity class progression.
CONCLUSIONS: The application of NRS outside the ICU is feasible and associated with favourable outcomes. Nonetheless, it was associated with a risk of staff contamination.