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One-third of patients hospitalized with COVID-19 need ICU care, study finds

One-third of patients hospitalized with COVID-19 need ICU care, study finds
Thirty percent of patients hospitalized with COVID-19 need ICU treatment and 14% die, a new study has found. File Photo by Jim Ruymen/UPI | License Photo

March 4 (UPI) -- Nearly one-third of patients hospitalized with COVID-19 in the United States require treatment in the intensive care unit and 14% die from the disease, an analysis published Thursday by JAMA Network Open found.

Among patients admitted to the hospital intensive care unit, or ICU, 28% died, the data showed.

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In some cases, costs per patient for those treated in hospital ICUs were as high as $60,000, and most spent roughly a week in the specialized unit, the researchers said.

"Our study demonstrates that COVID-19 has a huge impact on patients' health," study co-author Dr. Ninh T. Nguyen told UPI.

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"It is a deadly disease that afflicts everyone but particularly older individuals [and] it is a debilitating disease as many [patients] require a lengthy hospitalization and a lengthy recovery," said Nguyen, chief of the division of gastrointestinal surgery at the University of California Irvine.

The findings are based on an analysis of nearly 200,000 COVID-19 patients treated at 55 hospitals in the United States between March 1 and Aug. 31, 2020.

Through March 3, of nearly 28.8 million cases nationally, more than 1 million people required hospital care for severe illness, according to figures from Our World in Data.

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Of the patients included in the new analysis, 53% were men, 43% were White and 65% were Medicare or Medicaid beneficiaries.

In addition, 61% had high blood pressure prior to infection, while 38% had diabetes and 27% were obese, placing them at increased risk for severe COVID-19.

Twenty-nine percent of the patients in the analysis required ICU treatment for the virus, and 14% died in the hospital, including 27% of patients age 80 and older.

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Patients included in the study spent roughly one week in the hospital before they were discharged home or died, though 3% were moved into hospice care.

For those admitted to the hospital ICU, many spent 15 days in the hospital before death or discharge.

Costs per patient admitted to the hospital for COVID-19 exceeded $10,000, though on average they approached $40,000 for those who needed ICU care, the data showed.

"Even using a conservative calculation ... the price tag [for COVID-19] for the U.S. healthcare system is estimated to be upward of $50 billion to date," Nguyen said.

And this "does not account for additional post-hospitalization medical care and rehabilitation, long-term medical care, loss of earning and loss of life," he said.

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