Characteristics and Unexpected COVID-19 Diagnoses in Resuscitation Room Patients during the COVID-19 Outbreak-A Retrospective Case Series

Biomed Res Int. 2020 Aug 17;2020:2721381. doi: 10.1155/2020/2721381. eCollection 2020.


Introduction: Emergency department (ED) triage regarding infection with severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2) is challenging. During the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) outbreak in Germany, the diagnostic outcomes of critically ill patients admitted to the resuscitation room in the ED of our academic 754-bed hospital should be analyzed.

Methods: All resuscitation room patients between March 1st and April 15th 2020 were included in this retrospective study. Every patient with suspicion of SARS-CoV-2 infection received a pharyngeal swab for real-time polymerase chain reaction (rt-PCR), divided in the clinical subgroups of "highly suspicious for COVID-19" and "COVID-19 as differential diagnosis." All respiratory and infectious symptoms were included as at least "differential diagnosis" as an expanded suspicion strategy.

Results: Ninety-five patients were included (trauma n = 14, critically ill n = 81). Of 3 highly suspicious patients, 2 had rt-PCR positive pharyngeal swabs. In 39 patients, COVID-19 was defined as differential diagnosis, and 3 were positive for SARS-CoV-2. Of them, pharyngeal swabs were positive in 1 case, while in 2 cases, only tracheal fluid was rt-PCR positive while the pharyngeal swabs were negative. In one of these 2 cases, chest computed tomography (CT) was also negative for ground-glass opacities but showed a pulmonary abscess and pulmonary embolism.

Conclusion: We recommend an expanded suspicion strategy for COVID-19 due to unexpected diagnostic outcomes. Personal protective equipment should be used in every resuscitation room operation due to unexpected cases and initial knowledge gaps. Furthermore, tracheal fluid should be tested for SARS-CoV-2 in every intubated patient due to cases with negative pharyngeal swabs and negative chest CT.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Betacoronavirus*
  • Clinical Laboratory Techniques / methods*
  • Coronavirus Infections / diagnosis*
  • Coronavirus Infections / diagnostic imaging
  • Coronavirus Infections / epidemiology
  • Critical Illness
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Disease Outbreaks
  • Emergency Service, Hospital
  • False Negative Reactions
  • Female
  • Germany / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pandemics
  • Pneumonia, Viral / diagnosis*
  • Pneumonia, Viral / diagnostic imaging
  • Pneumonia, Viral / epidemiology
  • RNA, Viral / genetics
  • RNA, Viral / isolation & purification
  • Real-Time Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Resuscitation
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed
  • Triage


  • RNA, Viral

Supplementary concepts

  • COVID-19
  • COVID-19 diagnostic testing
  • severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2