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SAMJ: South African Medical Journal

On-line version ISSN 2078-5135
Print version ISSN 0256-9574


ARNOLD-DAY, C et al. Outcomes of patients with COVID-19 acute respiratory distress syndrome requiring invasive mechanical ventilation admitted to an intensive care unit in South Africa. SAMJ, S. Afr. med. j. [online]. 2022, vol.112, n.1, pp.34-39. ISSN 2078-5135.

BACKGROUND. Up to 32% of patients with COVID-19 pneumonia may require intensive care unit (ICU) admission or mechanical ventilation. Data from low- and middle-income countries on COVID-19 acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) are limited. Groote Schuur Hospital in Cape Town, South Africa, expanded its intensive care service to support patients with COVID-19 ARDS requiring invasive mechanical ventilation (IMV). OBJECTIVES. To report on patients' characteristics and outcomes from the first two pandemic waves. METHODS. All patients with COVID-19 ARDS admitted to the ICU for IMV were included in this prospective cohort study. Data were collected from 5 April 2020 to 5 April 2021. RESULTS. Over the 12-month study period, 461 patients were admitted to the designated COVID-19 ICU. Of these, 380 met the study criteria and 377 had confirmed hospital discharge outcomes. The median (range) age of patients was 51 (17 - 71) years, 50.5% were female, and the median (interquartile range (IQR)) body mass index was 32 (28 - 38) kg/m2. The median (IQR) arterial oxygen partial pressure to fractional inspired oxygen (P/F) ratio was 97 (71 - 128) after IMV was initiated. Comorbidities included diabetes (47.6%), hypertension (46.3%) and HIV infection (10.5%). Of the patients admitted, 30.8% survived to hospital discharge with a median (IQR) ICU length of stay of 19.5 (9 -36) days. Predictors of mortality after adjusting for confounders were male sex (odds ratio (OR) 1.74), increasing age (OR 1.04) and higher Sequential Organ Failure Assessment (SOFA) score (OR 1.29). CONCLUSIONS. In a resource-limited environment, the provision of IMV support in the ICU achieved 30.8% hospital survival in patients with COVID-19 ARDS. The ability to predict survival remains difficult given this complex disease.

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