Having a case of COVID-19 significantly increases hospitalized trauma patients' risk of complications and death, a new study finds.
"Our findings underscore how important it is for hospitals to consistently test admitted patients, so that providers can be aware of this additional risk and treat patients with extra care and vigilance," said lead author Dr. Elinore Kaufman. She's assistant professor in Penn Medicine's Division of Trauma, Surgical Critical Care and Emergency Surgery.
Kaufman's team at the University of Pennsylvania's Perelman School of Medicine analyzed data from 15,550 patients admitted to Pennsylvania trauma centers from March 21, 2020, to July 31, 2020. The patients had injuries from car crashes, falls or other accidents, or were victims of violence such as shootings and stabbings.
Of these, almost 8,200 were tested for the virus, and 219 tested positive. Patients who tested positive for COVID-19 were six times more likely to die than those who had similar injuries but did not have COVID-19.
Patients with COVID-19 also had twice the risk of complications such as venous thromboembolism (when a blood clot forms in a deep vein and travels to the lungs), kidney failure, need for intubation and unplanned ICU admission, and had a more than five times greater risk of pulmonary complications.
The risks of these complications were even higher in patients over age 65, according to the study published recently in The Journal of Trauma and Acute Surgery.
"COVID-19 had the largest impact on patients whose injuries were relatively minor, and who we would have otherwise expected to do well," Kaufman said in a Penn news release. Her team say steps must be taken to safeguard trauma patients in the era of COVID-19.
"First, we need to investigate how to best care for these high-risk patients, and establish standard protocols to minimize risks," said study senior author Dr. Niels Martin. He's chief of surgical critical care and an associate professor in the division of Trauma, Surgical Critical Care and Emergency Surgery.
"Second, we need more data on the risks associated with patients who present symptoms of COVID, versus those who are asymptomatic, so we can administer proven treatments appropriately and increase the likelihood of survival with minimal complications," Martin said in the release.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more on COVID-19.
SOURCES: University of Pennsylvania, news release, June 28, 2021