Patient outcomes following emergency admission to hospital for COVID-19 compared with influenza: retrospective cohort study

Thorax. 2022 Jul 27;thoraxjnl-2021-217858. doi: 10.1136/thoraxjnl-2021-217858. Online ahead of print.

Abstract

Background: We examine differences in posthospitalisation outcomes, and health system resource use, for patients hospitalised with COVID-19 during the UK's first pandemic wave in 2020, and influenza during 2018 and 2019.

Methods: This retrospective cohort study used routinely collected primary and secondary care data. Outcomes, measured for 90 days follow-up after discharge were length of stay in hospital, mortality, emergency readmission and primary care activity.

Results: The study included 5132 patients admitted to hospital as an emergency, with COVID-19 and influenza cohorts comprising 3799 and 1333 patients respectively. Patients in the COVID-19 cohort were more likely to stay in hospital longer than 10 days (OR 3.91, 95% CI 3.14 to 4.65); and more likely to die in hospital (OR 11.85, 95% CI 8.58 to 16.86) and within 90 days of discharge (OR 7.92, 95% CI 6.20 to 10.25). For those who survived, rates of emergency readmission within 90 days were comparable between COVID-19 and influenza cohorts (OR 1.07, 95% CI 0.89 to 1.29), while primary care activity was greater among the COVID-19 cohort (incidence rate ratio 1.30, 95% CI 1.23 to 1.37).

Conclusions: Patients admitted for COVID-19 were more likely to die, more likely to stay in hospital for over 10 days and interact more with primary care after discharge, than patients admitted for influenza. However, readmission rates were similar for both groups. These findings, while situated in the context of the first wave of COVID-19, with the associated pressures on the health system, can inform health service planning for subsequent waves of COVID-19, and show that patients with COVID-19 interact more with healthcare services as well as having poorer outcomes than those with influenza.

Keywords: COVID-19; respiratory infection; viral infection.