Patient factors associated with SARS-CoV-2 in an admitted emergency department population

J Am Coll Emerg Physicians Open. 2020 Jun 13;1(4):569-577. doi: 10.1002/emp2.12145. eCollection 2020 Aug.


Background: The SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) virus has wide community spread. The aim of this study was to describe patient characteristics and to identify factors associated with COVID-19 among emergency department (ED) patients under investigation for COVID-19 who were admitted to the hospital.

Methods: This was a retrospective observational study from 8 EDs within a 9-hospital health system. Patients with COVID-19 testing around the time of hospital admission were included. The primary outcome measure was COVID-19 test result. Patient characteristics were described and a multivariable logistic regression model was used to identify factors associated with a positive COVID-19 test.

Results: During the study period from March 1, 2020 to April 8, 2020, 2182 admitted patients had a test resulted for COVID-19. Of these patients, 786 (36%) had a positive test result. For COVID-19-positive patients, 63 (8.1%) died during hospitalization. COVID-19-positive patients had lower pulse oximetry (0.91 [95% confidence interval, CI], [0.88-0.94]), higher temperatures (1.36 [1.26-1.47]), and lower leukocyte counts than negative patients (0.78 [0.75-0.82]). Chronic lung disease (odds ratio [OR] 0.68, [0.52-0.90]) and histories of alcohol (0.64 [0.42-0.99]) or substance abuse (0.39 [0.25-0.62]) were less likely to be associated with a positive COVID-19 result.

Conclusion: We observed a high percentage of positive results among an admitted ED cohort under investigation for COVID-19. Patient factors may be useful in early differentiation of patients with COVID-19 from similarly presenting respiratory illnesses although no single factor will serve this purpose.

Keywords: COVID‐19; diagnosis; emergency department.