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CDC: Thousands of COVID-19 patients returned to hospitals within two months of initial release

A member of the medical staff holeld a patient's hand in the COVID-19 intensive care in July.
A member of the medical staff holeld a patient's hand in the COVID-19 intensive care in July.Go Nakamura/Getty Images/file

Many patients admitted to US hospitals for COVID-19 treatment between March and July were re-admitted to the same facilities within two months of being discharged, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Information on the patients was contained in the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report published Monday.

The report said researchers looked at 126,137 COVID-19 patients based on data from the Premier Healthcare Database, which includes discharge records for adults and children from 865 nongovernmental, teaching and community hospitals representing about 25 percent of US hospital admissions.

Of those 126,137 patients, the report said, 15 percent died during initial hospitalization. And out of the surviving 106,543 patients, 9,504 were re-admitted to the same hospital within two months “of discharge through August 2020,” said the report, which noted that 1.6 percent were re-admitted more than once.

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“Readmissions occurred more often among patients discharged to a skilled nursing facility (SNF) (15%) or those needing home health care (12%) than among patients discharged to home or selfcare (7%),” the report said.

Nursing homes and other long-term care facilities have long been identified as an epicenter of the pandemic.

And the odds of going back to the hospital increased, the report said, among people aged 65 and older and patients with certain chronic conditions, among other factors.

“These results support recent analyses that found chronic conditions to be significantly associated with hospital readmission,” the report said, while noting that understanding “the frequency of, and risk factors for, readmission can inform clinical practice, discharge disposition decisions, and public health priorities such as health care planning to ensure availability of resources needed for acute and follow-up care of COVID-19 patients.”

The report said “addressing priorities such as health care planning to ensure adequate health care resources for acute and post-acute follow-up care of COVID-19 patients is critical at a local, regional, and national level.”

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With the recent spike in cases nationwide, the document said, “hospital planning can account for these increasing numbers along with the potential for at least 9% of patients to be readmitted, requiring additional beds and resources.”

The report said continued public health messaging and interventions to prevent COVID-19 ″among older persons and those with underlying medical conditions is essential."

The CDC says elsewhere on its website that researchers are working to learn more about the short and long-term effects of COVID-19, which has killed more than 236,000 Americans.

“One of the health effects that CDC is closely watching and working to understand relates to COVID-19 and the heart,” the site says. “Heart conditions associated with COVID-19 include inflammation and damage to the heart muscle itself, known as myocarditis, or inflammation of the covering of the heart, known as pericarditis.”

And while older residents are particularly vulnerable, younger Americans can have complications too.

“For example, young adults with COVID-19, including athletes, can also suffer from myocarditis,” the CDC says. “Severe heart damage has occurred in young, healthy people, but is rare. There may be more cases of mild effects of COVID-19 on the heart that can be diagnosed with special imaging tests, including in younger people with mild or minimal symptoms; however, the long-term significance of these mild effects on the heart are unknown.”



Travis Andersen can be reached at travis.andersen@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @TAGlobe.