Health

Many patients hospitalized for other ailments, also test positive

With the spread of the highly contagious omicron variant of the coronavirus, hospitals are seeing a growing trend – patients admitted due to other illnesses have tested positive for Covid-19. Doctors say it could mean more people have asymptomatic or undiagnosed disease than current data shows.

Across the 10 New York Presbyterian campuses, just under half of the patients with Covid were admitted, meaning they were hospitalized with a problem not related to Covid but were also tested and found to have the virus. The statewide figure was 43 percent, according to state data.

“I have admitted patients with abdominal pain, I have admitted patients with chest pain who had no symptoms of respiratory illness, cough or Covid, and they just ended up with Covid,” said Dr. Rahul Sharma, an emergency physician. President of New York Presbyterian Center/Weill Cornell Medical Center.

Hospitals across the country are also seeing a higher proportion of so-called accidental Covid cases amid the omicron surge.

In Austin, Texas, some local hospitals report that 30 percent to 40 percent of patients admitted for other reasons also have COVID-19, Dr. Desmar Wax, medical director/health authority for the City of Austin and Travis County, said in a news call. Thursday.

For full coverage of the corona virus epidemic

Dr. Ryan Maeves, an infectious disease and critical care physician at North Carolina’s Wake Forest School of Medicine, said he’s also seeing more of these cases than usual, though he added that most are mild or asymptomatic.

Health experts say the emerging trend of patients being hospitalized with Covid – rather than Covid – may actually be a good sign, as it supports mounting evidence that omicron, the strain already prevalent in the United States, is less likely to cause severe disease. The disease was more than the previous variants, especially in fully vaccinated and booster subjects.

But they said it also complicates the way one views hospital admissions for Covid in the United States. Similar to previous Covid waves, patients infected with the virus are rapidly filling hospital beds, confusing hospital staff and delaying elective procedures, but many will not have difficulty breathing and need additional oxygen, among other conditions.

Experts say hospitalization may become a less reliable measure of the number of epidemic losses in the future.

“I still think the hospitalization data is the best data we have, but maybe it’s only useful as a relative value, which means Covid is high or low, and not as accurate as the actual cases,” said Dr. Stephen Schrantz, an infectious disease expert at UChicago Medicine.

COVID-19 can exacerbate underlying diseases

Dr Jeremy Faust, an emergency physician at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, said hospital staff should not “underestimate” patients admitted with Covid because they are often at an early stage in their illness and may be more contagious to others, including at-risk patients and staff. in health care.

Dr. Isaac Bogoch, an infectious disease specialist at the University of Toronto, said doctors also still had to be careful not to rule out patients who tested positive for Covid but who are not showing more obvious symptoms because the virus can exacerbate an underlying medical condition.

Maves of Wake Forest School of Medicine said doctors often start patients who test positive for Covid on a round of the antiviral drug Remdesivir — as well as care for other illnesses — if they have a co-morbidity that puts them at greater risk of severe disease.

Other effective treatments, such as monoclonal antibodies or oral antiviral drugs, from Pfizer and Merck, are not currently available.

Doctors say a positive test for Covid could also delay care for other conditions.

“There are a lot of patients who have some kind of chronic disease, whether it’s mental health issues, depression, addiction, or they’re on dialysis, and so they rely on out-of-hospital services for their care,” Museo said. Kit Delgado, MD, an emergency department physician at Penn Presbyterian Emergency Department Medical Center in Philadelphia. But if the test results are positive, “the number of places becomes very limited to where they can go. So, they get stuck in your emergency department.”

Dr. Ali Raja, an emergency physician at Massachusetts General Hospital, said he has seen the same thing, specifically patients who need psychiatric care but can’t go to a psychiatric unit because they test positive for Covid.

“We’ve had kids wait four weeks to get pediatric psychiatric beds,” he said, noting that some of those kids have to wait in the emergency department.

He follows NBC Health employment Twitter & Facebook social networking site.

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