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Oxford study shows high level of readmissions and death after COVID-19 discharge

22/02/2021

Some 30 percent of patients discharged after being admitted to hospital with community-acquired COVID-19 had been readmitted or died within 60 days, a study by Oxford researchers has shown.

In a paper published in the European Journal of Public Health, they found that, as anticipated, rates of readmission or death were higher among older adults. However, rates were twice as high among women than men, in contrast with studies of in-hospital mortality and morbidity for COVID-19, which have tended to find that men had higher rates of admission to critical care or death than women.

The study, which looked at electronic patient data from Oxford University Hospitals (OUH) NHS Foundation Trust as part of the National Institute of Health Research (NIHR) Health Informatics Collaborative, was carried out by researchers from the University of Oxford and OUH, with support from the NIHR Oxford Biomedical Research Centre (BRC).

The study's lead author, Dr Nazrul Islam, of the University of Oxford's Big Data Institute and Nuffield Department of Population Health, said:

"We believe this is the first study to describe clinically meaningful variations by demographic factors in longer-term outcomes among patients admitted with community-acquired COVID-19 in the UK.

"Previous studies have focused mainly on survival during hospitalisation and data on patients discharged following hospitalisation for COVID-19 have been scarce."

Dr Islam is now leading a World Health Organization study looking at COVID-19 mortality demographics worldwide.

Senior author Dr Ben Lacey said:

"One of the main findings from the first wave in the UK was that men are more likely to have severe outcomes, including ventilation and death. It is only now, however, that we are getting a clear picture of the effects among survivors from COVID-19 hospitalisations. It's important to recognise that just because people are surviving their first admission, that doesn't mean it's the end of the story."

National studies have now been initiated to understand the high rates of readmission or death following COVID-19 discharge in the UK, and to assess what can be done to prevent the adverse long-term effects of COVID-19.

Another author on the paper, Prof Jim Davies of the Big Data Institute and the NIHR Oxford BRC's Co-theme Lead for Clinical Informatics, said:

"This study is another example of how Oxford is utilising the rich supply of NHS data at its disposal and increasing our understanding of the pandemic, identifying important trends and allowing us to develop strategies to tackle them."