Providence researchers examine COVID-19’s impacts on hospital mortality

March 15, 2022

Since the early days of the pandemic, Providence has been a leader in research to understand the impacts of COVID-19 on hospital mortality. Investigators from across the Providence Research Network have conducted a variety of studies aimed at helping healthcare systems and providers understand and plan for the impacts of the pandemic, with an ultimate goal of helping inform evidence-based strategies that deliver better outcomes for all.

Let's look at a few examples of our researchers' work in this area.

COVID-19 Surges Found to Increase Risk-Adjusted Mortality

The early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic posed significant challenges to hospital intensive care units (ICUs), including both uncertainty and resource constraints. With critical care resources such as ventilators, nurses, respiratory therapists, and ICU beds at the center of crisis planning, a team of researchers including Chris Dale, MD, of Providence affiliate Swedish, sought to better understanding temporal changes in outcomes for critical care patients with COVID-19 during the first months of the pandemic. 

The study was one of the first to find that surges of patients were associated with an increase in risk-adjusted mortality due to COVID-19 in hospital settings. The findings, published July 2021 in the Journal of Hospital Medicine, highlighted the critical importance of mitigation efforts to prevent hospitals from being overwhelmed.

Evidence Suggests Deferred Care Has Led to Higher Mortality

Building on earlier research, Providence Center for Cardiovascular Analytics, Research + Data Science Medical Director Ty Gluckman, MD, collaborated with a team including Providence’s Senior Vice President of Research Ari Robicsek, MD, to examine the outcomes of patients hospitalized for reasons other than COVID-19.

The researchers sought to assess whether in-hospital mortality rates for patients without COVID-19 changed during surge periods in the first 10 months of the pandemic. Through an observational study of adults with unplanned hospitalizations at 51 hospitals across 6 western states, the team found that COVID-19 surges were associated with higher rates of in-hospital mortality among patients without COVID-19. The findings suggest that the pandemic disrupted medical care for many patients with common acute and chronic illnesses other than COVID-19. 

Key findings include:

  • Unplanned hospitalizations declined steeply during two major COVID-19 surges (down by 47.5% during the first and by 25% in the second).
  • While volumes declined, adjusted in-hospital mortality saw relative increases by more than 20% during both periods.
  • The observed increase in hospital mortality was seen in nearly all conditions studied.

These are just two examples of Providence research on the COVID-19 pandemic. Today, our investigators continue to analyze hospital outcomes data to improve our understanding of COVID-19 and its impacts on the risk of mortality across our care settings.  

Click the links below to read more about these studies. To learn more about research at Providence, visit the Providence Research Network website!

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