April 2, 2020

Case series of critically ill COVID-19 patients in Seattle

By: Judy Mathias
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Editor's Note

During the first 3 weeks of the COVID-19 outbreak in the Seattle area, the most common reasons for ICU admission were hypoxemic respiratory failure leading to mechanical ventilation and/or hypotension requiring vasopressor treatment, and mortality was high in these critically ill patients, this study finds.

In this analysis of 24 COVID-19 patients, the mean age was 64 years, 63% were men, and symptoms began approximately 7 days before admission.


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On hospital admission, the most common symptoms were cough and shortness of breath; only half had a fever and 58% had diabetes mellitus.

All were admitted to the ICU for hypoxemic respiratory failure, and 75% needed mechanical ventilation. Most also had hypotension and needed vasopressors.

Half of the patients died between ICU day 1 and 18. Of those who survived, five were discharged home, four were discharged from the ICU but remained in the hospital, and three continued on mechanical ventilation in the ICU.

The findings highlight the importance of planning for mass critical care as the need for ICU care and ventilatory support for COVID-19 patients grows, the authors say.

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