Characteristics and definitive outcomes of COVID-19 patients admitted to a secondary hospital intensive care unit in Sweden

Health Sci Rep. 2021 Dec 14;4(4):e446. doi: 10.1002/hsr2.446. eCollection 2021 Dec.


Background and aims: Most published reports of COVID-19 Intensive Care Unit (ICU) patients are from large tertiary hospitals and often present short-term or incomplete outcome data. There are reports indicating that ICUs with fewer beds are associated with higher mortality. This study aimed to investigate the definitive outcome and patient characteristics of the complete first wave of COVID-19 patients admitted to ICU in a secondary hospital.

Methods: In this prospective observational study, all patients with respiratory failure and a positive SARS-CoV-2 test admitted to Västerås Hospital ICU between 24 March and July 22, 2020 were included. The primary outcome was defined as 90-day mortality. Secondary outcomes included ICU length of stay, hospital length of stay, number of days with invasive ventilation, need for vasopressors/inotropes, and use of renal replacement therapy.

Results: Fifty-three patients were included. Median age (range) was 59 (33-76) and 74% were men. Obesity and hypertension were the most common comorbidities and 45% of the patients were born outside Europe. Ninety-day mortality was 30%. Median ICU length of stay (interquartile range) was 14 (5-24) days and the duration of invasive mechanical ventilation 16 (12-26) days. No patients received dialysis at 90-day follow-up.

Conclusion: In this cohort of COVID-19 patients treated in a secondary hospital ICU, mortality rates were low compared to early studies from China, Italy, and the United States, but similar to other government-funded hospitals in Scandinavia. A preparatory reorganization enabled an increase in ICU capacity, hence avoiding an overwhelmed intensive care organization.

Keywords: 90‐day follow‐up; ARDS; COVID‐19; ICU capacity; SARS‐CoV‐2; critical care; intensive care; long‐term; mortality; outcome.