Rationale: Treatment with non-invasive ventilation (NIV) in COVID-19 is frequent. Shortage of Intensive care unit (ICU) beds led clinicians to deliver NIV also outside intensive care units (ICUs). Data about the use of NIV in COVID-19 is limited.
Objective: To describe the prevalence and clinical characteristics of patients with COVID-19 treated with NIV outside the ICUs. To investigate the factors associated with NIV failure (need for intubation or death).
Methods: In this prospective single day observational study, we enrolled adult COVID-19 patients, treated with NIV outside the ICU from thirty-one hospitals in Lombardy, Italy.
Results: We collected data on demographic, clinical characteristics, ventilatory management and patients' outcome. Of 8753 COVID-19 patients present in the hospitals on the study day, 909 (10%) were receiving NIV outside the ICU. 778/909 (85%) patients were treated with Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP), delivered by helmet in 617 (68%). NIV failed in 300 patients (37.6%), while 498 (62.4%) were discharged alive without intubation. Overall mortality was 25%. NIV failure occurred in 152/284 (53%) patients with a PaO2/FiO2 ratio < 150 mmHg. Higher C-reactive protein, lower PaO2/FiO2, and platelet counts were independently associated with increased risk of NIV failure.
Conclusions: The use of NIV outside the ICUs, in COVID-19 was common, with a predominant use of helmet CPAP, with a rate of success greater than 60% and close to 75% in full treatment patients. C-reactive protein, PaO2/FiO2, platelet counts were independently associated with increased risk of NIV failure. Clinical trial registered with ClinicalTrials.gov (NCT04382235).