COVID-19 patients admitted to intensive care units (ICUs) at US Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) hospitals during peak coronavirus patient surges were twice as likely to die than those treated during low-demand periods, an observational study published today in JAMA Network Open suggests.

VA researchers studied 8,516 COVID-19 patients, 94.1% of them men, admitted to ICUs at 88 veterans hospitals from Mar 1 to Aug 31, 2020, with 30 days of follow-up.

Compared with COVID-19 patients treated in the ICU during times of low ICU demand (≤25%), those treated during times of 25% to 50% demand had an adjusted hazard ratio (aHR) of 0.99. But the aHR jumped to 1.19 when ICU demand was 50% to 75% and to 1.94 when demand was greater than 75%.

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