Incidental COVID infections appear to be a nontrivial fraction of all COVID-positive hospitalized patients. In the aggregate, however, the burden of patients admitted for complications of their viral infections appears to be far greater.
New Pre-Print Posted on MedRxiv.
Scattered reports have suggested that as many as one-half of all hospital inpatients identified as COVID-positive are incidental cases who were admitted primarily for reasons other than their viral infections. To date, however, there are no systematic studies of a representative panel of hospitals based on pre-established criteria for determining whether an individual patient was in fact admitted as a result of the disease. To fill this gap, we developed a formula to estimate the fraction of incidental COVID hospitalizations that relies upon measurable, population-based parameters.
Among COVID-positive hospitalized patients, 15.2% were estimated to be incidental infections. Across individual counties, the median fraction of incidental COVID hospitalizations was 13.7%, with an interquartile range of 9.5 to 18.4%