Timing and causes of death in severe COVID-19 patients

Link to article at PubMed

Crit Care. 2021 Jun 30;25(1):224. doi: 10.1186/s13054-021-03639-w.


BACKGROUND: Previous studies reporting the causes of death in patients with severe COVID-19 have provided conflicting results. The objective of this study was to describe the causes and timing of death in patients with severe COVID-19 admitted to the intensive care unit (ICU).

METHODS: We performed a retrospective study in eight ICUs across seven French hospitals. All consecutive adult patients (aged ≥ 18 years) admitted to the ICU with PCR-confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infection and acute respiratory failure were included in the analysis. The causes and timing of ICU deaths were reported based on medical records.

RESULTS: From March 1, 2020, to April 28, 287 patients were admitted to the ICU for SARS-CoV-2 related acute respiratory failure. Among them, 93 patients died in the ICU (32%). COVID-19-related multiple organ dysfunction syndrome (MODS) was the leading cause of death (37%). Secondary infection-related MODS accounted for 26% of ICU deaths, with a majority of ventilator-associated pneumonia. Refractory hypoxemia/pulmonary fibrosis was responsible for death in 19% of the cases. Fatal ischemic events (venous or arterial) occurred in 13% of the cases. The median time from ICU admission to death was 15 days (25th-75th IQR, 7-27 days). COVID-19-related MODS had a median time from ICU admission to death of 14 days (25th-75th IQR: 7-19 days), while only one death had occurred during the first 3 days since ICU admission.

CONCLUSIONS: In our multicenter observational study, COVID-19-related MODS and secondary infections were the two leading causes of death, among severe COVID-19 patients admitted to the ICU.

PMID:34193220 | DOI:10.1186/s13054-021-03639-w

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