A Case Report of Rapidly Lethal Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome Secondary to Coronavirus Disease 2019 Viral Pneumonia

Cureus. 2020 May 21;12(5):e8228. doi: 10.7759/cureus.8228.


As of April 2020, the coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has resulted in more than 210,000 deaths globally. The most common cause of death from COVID-19 is acute respiratory failure. We report the case of a 78-year-old female with a history of hypertension, cerebrovascular accident (CVA), type 2 diabetes mellitus, and sarcoidosis, who presented to the emergency department with one day of dyspnea. The patient experienced a rapid decline in respiratory function and was intubated in the intensive care unit (ICU), meeting the Berlin criteria for severe acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS). Chest radiography revealed diffuse bilateral coalescent opacities, and severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) RNA swab test was positive for COVID-19. The patient experienced acute kidney injury with uptrending creatinine levels and remained lethargic and unresponsive throughout her ICU stay, suggestive of potential hypoxic brain injury. In light of the patient's poor clinical status, age, and significant comorbidities, prognosis was conveyed about medical futility and patient's family agreed to terminal extubation and the patient expired peacefully, exactly one week from hospital admission. This case report highlights the speed at which severe ARDS can present and contribute to end-organ dysfunction in COVID-19 patients.

Keywords: acute respiratory distress syndrome; berlin criteria; coronavirus disease (covid-19).

Publication types

  • Case Reports