Clinical and Laboratory Profile of COVID-19 Pneumonia Patients With a Complicated Post-Intensive Care Unit Hospital Course

Hamid Yaqoob, David Vernik, Paul J. Feustel, Dipak Chandy, Oleg Epelbaum


Background: Characteristics of intensive care unit (ICU) downgrades who experience a complicated post-ICU ward course (ICU return or floor death) and the incidence of this phenomenon have not been examined in ICU survivors of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pneumonia. The aim of the present study was to establish the rate of a complicated post-ICU ward course among survivors of COVID-19 pneumonia and describe the associated patient, ICU management, and serum biomarker characteristics. An additional aim was to compare these parameters between those who experienced a complicated post-ICU course and those who did not.

Methods: This was a retrospective study of patients who were admitted to the ICU with COVID-19 pneumonia and were downgraded to a hospital floor at the end of their initial ICU stay. Patients were divided based on a complicated or uncomplicated post-ICU course. Groups were compared with respect to relevant clinical variables. Serum biomarker levels were compared on day of ICU exit and were trended in the days preceding the downgrade. Ward stay of patients who had a complicated course was examined for notable floor events surrounding their decompensation.

Results: Eighteen out of 99 downgraded patients (18%) experienced a complicated post-ICU course, among them there were 14 returns (14%) and four deaths (4%). They had higher Charlson Comorbidity Index, higher Acute Physiology and Chronic Health Evaluation (APACHE) IV score, as well as higher D-dimer and C-reactive protein (CRP) at ICU departure. They were less likely to have received therapeutic anticoagulation and convalescent plasma during their ICU stay. On multivariable analysis, these parameters except D-dimer remained independently associated with a complicated course. Review of biomarker trends preceding ICU exit demonstrated an upward trajectory of D-dimer, CRP, and lactate dehydrogenase (LDH) in the complicated course group not mirrored by the uncomplicated course group. Examination of notable floor events leading up to decompensation revealed that in 50% the ward course was characterized by new cardiac disturbances.

Conclusions: Our rate of ward death among ICU downgrades was similar to pre-COVID data, but the rate of ICU return was higher. Complicated post-ICU course patients were exhibiting upward biomarker trends at ICU exit, and their ward stay was punctuated by acute cardiac abnormalities.

J Clin Med Res. 2021;13(10-11):487-496


Hospital course; Complicated; Readmission; Intensive care unit; COVID-19; Coronavirus

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