Sarasota, FL (WorkersCompensation.com) – Less than a month after COVID-19 was formally declared as a national pandemic, nearly 10,000 healthcare workers were already infected with the SARS-CoV-2 virus. Infection rates were often influenced by geographical, state-wide, and facility infection control policies; however, frontline healthcare workers have been at increased risk of infection since the pandemic began.
A new study published in JAMA Network Open suggests that although they are at greater risk, healthcare workers appear to have less severe reactions to COVID-19.
Researchers retrospectively reviewed the records of 1,790 hospitalized patients with a confirmed COVID-19 diagnosis from 36 American and Canadian care centers from April 15 to June 5, 2020. A total of 127 healthcare workers were included in the records that were reviewed, and after a 3:1 propensity score matching, 122 healthcare workers were matched to 366 non-healthcare workers. The average age of those in the healthcare worker group was 52, and the average age of the non-healthcare workers was 57.
The data the researchers reviewed suggested that healthcare workers were 44 percent less likely to require admission to an intensive care unit for treatment, and were 47 percent less likely to have a hospital stay longer than 7 days. However, the same was not true for ventilation needs and death risk. In fact, healthcare workers were just as likely to require mechanical ventilation for breathing support, and were at just as much risk of dying from COVID-19. Around 34 percent of both groups required mechanical ventilation, and the death risk for both groups was 53 percent.
In an unmatched Chinese study, data revealed that although healthcare workers had a much higher infection rate than the general population, they had a much lower death rate. The case infection rate among healthcare workers in that study was 2.10 percent, compared to non-healthcare workers at .43 percent. By comparison, the death rate among healthcare workers was .69 percent while the non-healthcare worker mortality rate was 5.30 percent.
While researchers speculated that meticulous PPE use was a possible contributing factor to the results of the study, the researchers also conceded that the healthcare workers reviewed in the study were also slightly younger, and were healthier with fewer comorbidities and were less likely to be smokers. The researchers called for more studies on the impacts of COVID-19 on the healthcare worker population.