PLoS One. 2021 Jun 17;16(6):e0252763. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0252763. eCollection 2021.
BACKGROUND: Data on the post-acute and post-infectious complications of patients who have recovered from severe coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) are limited. While studies report that approximately 5-15% of COVID-19 hospitalized patients require intensive care and mechanical ventilation, a substantially higher number need non-invasive ventilation and are subject to prolonged hospitalizations, with long periods of immobility and isolation. The purpose of this study is to describe the post-infectious sequelae of severe viral illness and the post-acute complications of intensive care treatments in critically ill patients who have recovered from severe COVID-19 infection.
METHODS: We performed a retrospective chart review of adult patients initially hospitalized with confirmed COVID-19 infection, who recovered and were transferred to a general medical ward or discharged home between March 15, 2020 and May 15, 2020, dates inclusive, after an intensive care unit (ICU) or high dependency unit (HDU) admission in a designated COVID-19 hospital in the United Arab Emirates. Demographic data, underlying comorbidities, treatment, complications, and outcomes were collected. Descriptive statistical analyses were performed.
RESULTS: Of 71 patients transferred out of ICU (n = 38, 54%) and HDU (n = 33, 46%), mean age was 48 years (SD, 9.95); 96% men; 54% under age 50. Mean ICU stay was 12.4 days (SD, 5.29), HDU stay was 13.4 days (SD, 4.53). Pre-existing conditions were not significantly associated with developing post-acute complications (Odds Ratio [OR] 1.1, 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.41, 2.93, p = 1.00). Fifty nine percent of patients had complications; myopathy, swallowing impairments, and pressure ulcers were most common. Delirium and confusion were diagnosed in 18% (n = 13); all were admitted to the ICU and required mechanical ventilation. Of note, of all patients studied, 59.2% (n = 42/71) had at least 1 complication, 32.4% (n = 23) had at least 2 complications, and 19.7% (n = 14) suffered 3 or more sequelae. Complications were significantly more common in ICU patients (n = 33/38, 87%), compared to HDU patients (n = 9/33, 27%) (OR 17.6, 95% CI 5.23, 59.21, p <0.05).
CONCLUSION: In a subset of critically ill patients who recovered from severe COVID-19 infection, there was considerable short-term post-infectious and post-acute disability. Long-term follow-up of COVID-19 survivors is warranted.