November 3, 2022

Complexity, challenges of diagnosis, management of long COVID

By: Judy Mathias

Editor's Note

This study led by researchers at the VA Puget Sound Health Care System and University of Washington, Seattle, highlights the complexity of diagnosing long COVID and the challenges of caring for patients with this condition.

Included in the analysis were 200 randomly sampled COVID-19 patients receiving care in the Department of Veterans Affairs who had at least one diagnostic code for long COVID.

The researchers identified two themes pertaining to the diagnosis and management of long COVID:

  • clinical uncertainty about whether particular symptoms were due to long COVID because of the medical complexity and functional limitations of many of the patients and absence of specific markers for this condition
  • care fragmentation because post-COVID-19 care processes were largely added on to the care the patients were already receiving.

The findings suggest that the World Health Organization definition of long COVID, which is a diagnosis of exclusion that includes many common and nonspecific symptoms, may prove difficult to operationalize in clinical settings, the authors say.

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