Comparison of baseline characteristics, treatment and clinical outcomes of critically ill COVID-19 patients admitted in the first and second waves in Australia

Aidan J.C. Burrell, Ary Serpa Neto, Tessa Broadley, Tony Trapani, Husna Begum, Lewis T. Campbell, Allen C. Cheng, Winston Cheung, D. James Cooper, Simon J. Erickson, Craig J. French, John M. Kaldor, Edward Litton, Srinivas Murthy, Richard E. McAllister, Alistair D. Nichol, Annamaria Palermo, Mark P. Plummer, Mahesh Ramanan, Benjamin A.J. ReddiClaire Reynolds, Steve A. Webb, Andrew A. Udy, for the SPRINT-SARI Australia Investigators

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Objective: To report longitudinal differences in baseline characteristics, treatment, and outcomes in patients with coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) admitted to intensive care units (ICUs) between the first and second waves of COVID-19 in Australia. Design, setting and participants: SPRINT-SARI Australia is a multicentre, inception cohort study enrolling adult patients with COVID-19 admitted to participating ICUs. The first wave of COVID-19 was from 27 February to 30 June 2020, and the second wave was from 1 July to 22 October 2020. Results: A total of 461 patients were recruited in 53 ICUs across Australia; a higher number were admitted to the ICU during the second wave compared with the first: 255 (55.3%) versus 206 (44.7%). Patients admitted to the ICU in the second wave were younger (58.0 v 64.0 years; P = 0.001) and less commonly male (68.9% v 60.0%; P = 0.045), although Acute Physiology and Chronic Health Evaluation (APACHE) II scores were similar (14 v 14; P = 0.998). High flow oxygen use (75.2% v 43.4%; P < 0.001) and non-invasive ventilation (16.5% v 7.1%; P = 0.002) were more common in the second wave, as was steroid use (95.0% v 30.3%; P < 0.001). ICU length of stay was shorter (6.0 v 8.4 days; P = 0.003). In-hospital mortality was similar (12.2% v 14.6%; P = 0.452), but observed mortality decreased over time and patients were more likely to be discharged alive earlier in their ICU admission (hazard ratio, 1.43; 95% CI, 1.13–1.79; P = 0.002). Conclusion: During the second wave of COVID-19 in Australia, ICU length of stay and observed mortality decreased over time. Multiple factors were associated with this, including changes in clinical management, the adoption of new evidence-based treatments, and changes in patient demographic characteristics but not illness severity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)308-319
Number of pages12
JournalCritical Care and Resuscitation
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2021

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