Findings from a new study show that surviving a case of COVID-19 that is severe enough to require hospitalisation can be quite challenging, but life after the ICU stay is also not a bed of roses. 

The study includes data from 1250 patients treated in 38 hospitals. The average age of the participants is 62 years, and 83% of the patients lived at home after being hospitalised for COVID-19. 

The study reports that approximately 7% of COVID-19 patients died within two months of leaving the hospital, including over 10% treated in the ICU. 15% of hospitalised COVID-19 patients ended up back in the hospital after being discharged. 39% of the patients report that they were unable to get back to normal activities, even two months after leaving the hospital. 12% report that they could no longer carry out basic care for themselves the way they used to before hospitalisation. 23% of the patients report they become short of breath after climbing a flight of stairs, while one-third said that they continue to have COVID-like symptoms, such as problems with taste or smell. 

Nearly 40% of the patients report that they could not go back to work because of their health. Many lost their jobs altogether. 26% of the patients who went back to work said they had to work fewer hours or had to perform reduced duties because their health would not allow them to perform the same way they did before hospitalisation. 

The emotional impact of COVID-19 is also something that should be mentioned. Nearly 50% of the patients said they had been emotionally affected by the COVID-19 experience, and some have had to seek mental health care. 

37% of patients report that COVID-19 has had a negative impact on their financial stability. 10% of patients report that they have used up more or all of their savings, and 7% said they have had to ration food, heat, housing and medications to reduce cost. 

These findings show that the burden of COVID-19 is not limited to the hospital but can extend far and beyond. For many COVID-19 ICU survivors, the mental, financial and physical challenges can be quite severe. The struggle after COVID-19 is something that should be addressed, and programmes should be implemented to promote support and recovery after COVID-19 ICU hospitalisation. 

Image Credit: iStock


Chopra V, Flanders SA, O'Malley M, Malani AN, Prescott HC (2020) Sixty-Day Outcomes Among Patients Hospitalized With COVID-19 [published online ahead of print, Ann Intern Med, 10.7326/M20-5661. doi:10.7326/M20-5661

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ICU, mental health, hospitalisations, COVID-19, post-COVID-19 Life After COVID-19 Hospitalisation