General practice attendances among patients attending a post-COVID-19 hospital clinic: A pilot study

John Broughan, Geoff Mccombe, Gordana Avramovic, Des Crowley, Cheyenne Downey, Joanne Downey, Ronan Fawsitt, Tina Mchugh, Eileen O’connor, Carla Perrotta, Aoife Cotter, John S Lambert, Walter Cullen

Keywords: COVID-19; Follow-Up Studies; General Practice; Long-Term Care; Pilot Projects

About 10%-35% of people with COVID-19 merit medical care within three weeks of infection. However, the prevalence of ongoing care needs among individuals experiencing severe COVID-19 illness is unclear.

Research questions:
What is the prevalence of ongoing care needs among severe COVID-19 patients?

This pilot study applied a cross-sectional design whereby data was collected from adult patients attending a post-COVID-19 follow-up clinic at the Mater Misericordiae University Hospital, Dublin, Ireland, 3-6 months after their initial presentation at the clinic. Participants completed questionnaires documenting their demographics, medical histories, hospital admissions/re-admissions where applicable, and where relevant, primary care service use following hospital discharge. Analyses were conducted using descriptive/inferential statistics.

Participants’ (n=153) median age = 43.5 (IQR = 30.9-52.1). There were 105 females (68.6%) and 48 males (31.4%). Various medical histories were reported among participants. 67 (43.2%) reported being admitted to hospital for COVID-19. Older individuals, males, ICU admissions, and readmissions were common among hospital attendees. Of the hospital attendees, 16 (24%, 95% CI = 13.7-34.2%) and 26 (39%, 95% CI = 27.3-50.7%) attended general practices within seven and 30 days of hospital discharge. Older adults (median age = 49.8yrs), people with preexisting medical conditions, and individuals admitted to ICU/readmitted to hospital were common among general practice attendees.

Persistent health issues appear to be common among patients who experienced severe COVID-19 illness. Older adults, people with pre-existing health problems, and individuals who received ICU and/or re-admission care may have greater long-term care needs requiring attention.

Points for discussion:
The importance of understanding long-term care needs in COVID populations, especially those who experience severe COVID-19 illness worthy of emergency hospital treatment.

Which population groups are most likely to experience persistent adverse COVID-19 effect requiring long-term care?

What role can general practice/primary care play in terms of addressing these groups’ long-term care needs?