SARS-CoV-2, the virus responsible for causing COVID-19, has been found to be linked to approximately one in every six sepsis cases at five hospitals in Boston, according to researchers from Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Massachusetts. The study, which analyzed data from the first 2-1/2 years of the pandemic, suggests that healthcare workers should reconsider their approach to treating sepsis, as viral infections like COVID-19 can trigger the same immune response as bacterial sepsis.
The findings, based on health records from five Mass General Brigham hospitals, highlight the importance of improving surveillance of sepsis using electronic health data. The study included over 430,000 hospitalizations and 260,000 individuals, with COVID-19 being the cause of hospitalization in 5.4% of cases. Furthermore, 28.2% of these patients developed COVID-associated sepsis.
Initially, patients with both COVID-19 and sepsis faced a high mortality rate of 33%. However, over time, this rate decreased and became comparable to the death rate for bacterial sepsis at 14.5%. These results underline the need for tailored diagnosis and treatment strategies for each patient experiencing sepsis, regardless of whether it is triggered by a viral or bacterial infection.
The use of electronic health data in this study provides a framework for future research into sepsis associated with other viruses, such as influenza and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV). The researchers aim to apply this methodology to larger, nationally representative datasets.
In conclusion, the study conducted by researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital reveals that a significant number of sepsis cases in Boston hospitals during the first years of the COVID-19 pandemic were linked to the virus. This highlights the urgency of reevaluating sepsis treatment protocols to account for viral infections like COVID-19. The study’s findings promote the use of electronic health data for more accurate surveillance of sepsis and emphasize the necessity of tailored approaches to diagnosis and treatment for each individual. The researchers also anticipate employing this methodology in future investigations into sepsis associated with other viruses.
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