Background The ongoing Coronavirus-19 (CV-19) pandemic has had worldwide impact with over 240 million cases globally1 to date. As with most the UK, The Dudley Group NHS Foundation Trust (DGFT) has cared for patients with the virus since Spring 2020 and we reviewed if the types of patients who died (all causes) changed in the pandemic on a local level.
Method Retrospective review of adult inpatients who died at DGFT – looking at November 2019 (before CV-19) and April 2020 (early in first-wave). A list of adults who were coded as dying as an inpatient in these two periods was compiled by the Informatics Team and data collected from 45 notes for each month.
Results There were 148 adult inpatient deaths in November 2019, which increased 77% to 262 in April 2020. Median ages at death were similar (77 years) but fewer females (27%). 4% were known to Specialist Palliative Care before admission. Average lengths of stay were similar (5–6 days) and approaching end of life was recognised in the majority of cases. In April 2020, there was a decreased number of patients with recent hospital admissions (24%) and a three-fold increase in those with an unimpaired functional status (29%). Fewer were admitted from home but more from care homes (18%). 25% of those with CV-19 as cause of death had no documented comorbidities (all aged over 74).
Conclusions There appears an increase of inpatient deaths at the start of the Coronavirus-19 pandemic in three main groups: care home residents, those with comorbidities and older people with no comorbidities/unimpaired functioning. Promoting advance care planning with these groups as a priority may be beneficial for future waves – especially wishes for hospital admission and preferred place of care. (Assessment of impacts of the CV-19 vaccination programme on these patient groups could be considered).
World Health Organisation Coronavirus (COVID-19) Dashboard (2021). https://covid19.who.int/[accessed 20th October 2021].
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