Role of respiratory intermediate care units during the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic

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Rationale: The SARS-CoV2 pandemic increased exponentially the need for both Intensive (ICU) and Intermediate Care Units (RICU). The latter are of particular importance because they can play a dual role in critical and post-critical care of COVID-19 patients. Here, we describe the setup of 2 new RICUs in our institution to face the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic and discuss the clinical characteristics and outcomes of the patients attended. Methods: Retrospective analysis of the characteristics and outcomes of COVID-19 patients admitted to 2 new RICUs built specifically in our institution to face the first wave of the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic, from April 1 until May 30, 2020. Results: During this period, 106 COVID-19 patients were admitted to these 2 RICUs, 65 of them (61%) transferred from an ICU (step-down) and 41 (39%) from the ward or emergency room (step-up). Most of them (72%) were male and mean age was 66 ± 12 years. 31% of them required support with oxygen therapy via high-flow nasal cannula (HFNC) and 14% non-invasive ventilation (NIV). 42 of the 65 patients stepping down (65%) had a previous tracheostomy performed and most of them (74%) were successfully decannulated during their stay in the RICU. Length of stay was 7 [4–11] days. 90-day mortality was 19% being significantly higher in stepping up patients than in those transferred from the ICU (25 vs. 10% respectively; p < 0.001). Conclusions: RICUs are a valuable hospital resource to respond to the challenges of the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic both to treat deteriorating and recovering COVID-19 patients.




Matute-Villacís, M., Moisés, J., Embid, C., Armas, J., Fernández, I., Medina, M., … Badia, J. R. (2021). Role of respiratory intermediate care units during the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic. BMC Pulmonary Medicine, 21(1).

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