Researchers in the US have revealed that roughly one in 10 patients diagnosed with Covid-19 needed to return to the hospital within a week of discharge from an emergency department visit.
The study, published in the journal Academic Emergency Medicine, also found that factors like lower pulse oximetry levels and fever were some of the most telling symptoms that resulted in return trips that resulted in admission. "We hope this study helps emergency clinicians have more informed conversations with patients suspected to have Covid-19," said the study's lead author Austin Kilaru from the University of Pennsylvania in the US.
"It can be difficult to make this diagnosis and send patients home without knowing if they will get sick in the coming days," Kilaru added. The study looked at 1,419 patients who went to an emergency department (ED) between March 1 and May 28, 2020, were discharged, and tested positive for Covid-19 in the seven days surrounding that visit.
Data showed that 4.7 per cent of the patients returned to the hospital and were admitted within just three days for their initial ED visit, and an additional 3.9 per cent were hospitalized within a week.
In total, that meant that 8.6 per cent of patients were coming back to the hospital after their first ED visit due to Covid-19. "We were surprised with the overall rate that patients return and need admission, which is twice that of other illnesses," Kilaru explained.
A population that the study showed was particularly vulnerable were patients over 60 years old. Compared to patients in the 18 to 39 years of age range, those over 60 were more than five times as likely to require hospitalisation after being discharged from their initial emergency department visit.
Those in the 40 to 59 age range were found to be three times as likely to require hospitalisation than the younger group. "If the patient had other factors such as an abnormal chest x-ray, the likelihood of needing to come back to be hospitalised goes up even more," said the study's senior author M. K Delgado.
With the hope that their findings can better inform doctors on who is most appropriate for home recovery, the researchers called out remote monitoring as a useful tool for looking after Covid-19 patients.