Infect Prev Pract. 2021 Oct 5:100178. doi: 10.1016/j.infpip.2021.100178. Online ahead of print.
BACKGROUND: Isolation precautions are essential prevent spread of COVID-19 infection but may have a negative impact on inpatient care. The impact of these measures on non-COVID-19 patients remains largely unexplored.
AIM: This study aimed to investigate diagnostic and treatment delays related to isolation precautions, the associated patient outcome, and the predisposing risk factors for delays.
METHODS: This observational study was conducted in seven Helsinki region hospitals during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic in Finland. The study used data on all non-COVID-19 inpatients, who were initially isolated due to suspected COVID-19, to estimate whether isolation precautions resulted in diagnostic or treatment delays.
RESULTS: Out of 683 non-COVID-19 patients, 33 (4.8%) had delays related to isolation precautions. Clinical condition deteriorated non-fatally in seven (1.0%) patients. The following events were associated with an increased risk of treatment or a diagnostic delay: more than three ward transfers (P = 0.025); referral to an incorrect speciality in the emergency department (P = 0.004); more than three SARS-CoV-2 RT-PCR tests performed (P = 0.022); and where cancer was the final diagnosis (P = 0.018). In contrast, lower respiratory tract symptoms (P = 0.013) decreased the risk.
CONCLUSIONS: The use of isolation precautions for patients who did not have COVID-19 had minor negative effects on patient outcomes. The present study underlines the importance of targeting diagnostic efforts to patients with unspecified symptoms and to those with a negative SARS-CoV-2 test result. Thorough investigations to achieve an accurate diagnosis improves the prognosis of patients and facilitates appropriate targeting of hospital resources.