COVID-19 Patients Continue to Struggle After Hospital Discharge

Patients with COVID-19 faced a significant emotional and financial burden after discharge from treatment.

Patients treated for coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) continue to face challenges even after being discharged from the hospital, according to a study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused more than 1.32 million deaths and there have been over 54.7 million confirmed cases worldwide, according to the World Health Organization. For patients hospitalized for the virus, life after recovering from COVID-19 continues to pose challenges.

The study was made up of 488 surviving COVID-19 patients 60 days after hospitalization. Investigators surveyed them on life after hospital discharge and the continued burden COVID-19 has placed on their life.

According to the study, 39% of those surveyed reported that they had not gotten back to normal activities 2 months after discharge. Additionally, 12% said that they could not conduct basic self-care for themselves or as well as they were able to before contracting the virus. Patients who were discharged also continued to have problems breathing, with almost 23% reporting they were short of break after just climbing a flight of stairs.

One-third of patients still had COVID-19-like symptoms, such as trouble with taste or smell. Their personal lives also suffered, with 40% reporting that they could not return to work, either because they were still too sick or they had lost their job. According to the study, 26% of those who had returned to work had to work fewer hours or reduced their duties.

"The sheer number of people struggling after COVID brings new urgency to developing programs to better promote and support recovery after acute illness," said senior author Hallie Prescott, MD, MS, pulmonary/critical care physician at University of Michigan and the VA Ann Arbor Healthcare System, in a press release.

COVID-19 not only has a physical toll on those discharged from the hospital, but a mental and financial one as well, according to the study. Nearly half of participants reported that the experience emotionally affected them. Additionally, 37% reported that the experience financially burdened them, 10% reported using all of their savings for treatment, and 7% said they were rationing at least 1 essential expense, such as food or heat in order to cover costs.

REFERENCE

Life after COVID hospitalization: Study shows major lasting effects on health, work and more [News Release] November 11, 2020; Ann Arbor, Mich. Accessed November 17, 2020. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/11/201111180635.htm.