Almas A, Mushtaq Z, Moller J
BMJ Open 11 (5) e045414 [2021-05-28; online 2021-05-28]
To determine if there is an association between acuity level of care (ALC), case fatality and length of stay in patients admitted to hospital due to COVID-19. A hospital-based observational follow-up study. Internal Medicine Service of the Aga Khan University Hospital, Pakistan, from 26 February 2020 to 30 June 2020. Adult patients with confirmed COVID-19, aged ≥18 years. ALC was categorised into low, intermediate and high level and patients were triaged using the standard emergency severity illness score. All patients were followed until the end of hospital admission for the outcome of case fatality and length of stay. A total of 822 patients with COVID-19 were admitted during the study period and 699 met inclusion criteria. The mean age was 54.5 years and 67% were males; 50.4% were triaged to low, 42.5% to intermediate and 7.2% to high acuity care. The overall case-fatality rate was 11.6%, with the highest (52%) in high acuity level followed by 16.2% in intermediate and 2% in low acuity care. Acuity level was associated with case fatality, with an HR (95% CI) of 5.0 (2.0 to 12.1) for high versus low acuity care and an HR of 2.7 (1.2, 6.4) for intermediate versus low acuity care, after adjusting for age, sex and common comorbidities including diabetes, hypertension, ischaemic heart disease and chronic lung disease. Similarly, acuity level was also associated with length of hospital stay. High and intermediate acuity level is associated with higher case fatality rate and prolonged length of hospital stay in patients admitted with COVID-19. In resource-limited settings where the provision of high acuity care is limited, the intermediate care acuity could serve as a useful strategy to treat relatively less critical patients with COVID-19.