The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has released early findings in a report entitled Health Care Utilization and Clinical Characteristics of Nonhospitalized Adults in an Integrated Health Care System 28–180 Days After COVID-19 Diagnosis. The CDC is highlighting this data to make Clinicians and health care systems aware of the potential for post-COVID conditions. The report sheds light on the following.
Among 3,171 nonhospitalized adult COVID-19 patients, 69% had one or more outpatient visits 28–180 days after the diagnosis. Two-thirds had a visit for a new primary diagnosis, and approximately one-third had a new specialist visit. Symptoms potentially related to COVID-19 were common new visit diagnoses. Visits for these symptoms decreased after 60 days but for some patients continued through 120–180 days.
It is as important for patients and the public to be aware of the potential for follow on symptoms. Let’s examine the report in a little more detail and see what this potentially means for patients that may have been asymptomatic or only experienced light symptoms with their initial coronavirus infection.
It’s also important to note that for obvious reasons with our attention diverted to fighting the spread of the virus, healthcare needs in the months after Covid diagnosis among nonhospitalized adults have not been well studied. The figures below were drawn from a sample of 3,171 adults, none of whom had been hospitalized. Their electronic health record (EHR) data from health care visits in the 28–180 days after a diagnosis of COVID-19 at an integrated health care system was analyzed and showed the following.
- Among 3,171 nonhospitalized adults who had COVID-19, 69% had one or more outpatient visits during the follow-up period of 28–180-days.
- Compared with patients without an outpatient visit, a higher percentage of those who did have an outpatient visit were aged ≥50 years, were women, were non-Hispanic Black, and had underlying health conditions.
- Among adults with outpatient visits, 68% had a visit for a new primary diagnosis, and 38% had a new specialist visit.
- Active COVID-19 diagnoses* (10%) and symptoms potentially related to COVID-19 (3%–7%) were among the top 20 new visit diagnoses; rates of visits for these diagnoses declined from 2–24 visits per 10,000 person-days 28–59 days after COVID-19 diagnosis to 1–4 visits per 10,000 person-days 120–180 days after diagnosis.
The report concludes
The presence of diagnoses of COVID-19 and related symptoms in the 28–180 days following acute illness suggests that some nonhospitalized adults, including those with asymptomatic or mild acute illness, likely have continued health care needs months after diagnosis. Clinicians and health systems should be aware of post-COVID conditions among patients who are not initially hospitalized for acute COVID-19 disease.
What this means to you
If you know you contracted the coronavirus in the last few months and you’ve developed any annoying and persistent symptoms, leg pain, headaches, lethargy, breathing issues, unusual and sudden bouts of depression, etc, that cannot be explained by a pre-existing condition, make sure you get to a doctor and explain to them that you recently tested positive for the virus.