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This article is the author’s final published version in Critical Care Explorations, Volume 5, Issue 9, September 2023, Article number e0964.

The published version is available at Copyright © 2023 The Authors. Published


OBJECTIVES: We analyzed whether patients with the International Classification of Diseases, 10th Edition (ICD-10) discharge diagnosis code for sepsis are different in regard to demographics and outcome variables when comparing those with sepsis only to those also diagnosed with COVID-19 or those with a COVID-19 diagnosis alone.

DESIGN: Retrospective cohort study.

SETTING: Nine hospitals in an academic health system.

PATIENTS: Patients with a final ICD-10 discharge diagnostic code for sepsis only, a diagnosis of COVID-19-only, or a final sepsis ICD-10 discharge code + a diagnosis of COVID-19 admitted to the hospital were analyzed for demographic and outcome differences between the cohorts.


MEASUREMENTS AND MAIN RESULTS: A total of 11,395 patients met inclusion criteria: 6,945 patients (60.9%) were ICD-10 sepsis code only, 3,294 patients (28.9%) were COVID-19 diagnosis-only, and 1,153 patients (10.1%) were sepsis ICD-10 code + COVID-19 diagnosis. Comparing sepsis ICD-10 code + COVID-19 diagnosis patients to sepsis ICD-10 code only and COVID-19 diagnosis-only patients, the sepsis ICD-10 code + COVID-19 diagnosis patients were: older (69 [58-78] vs 67 [56-77] vs 64 [51-76] yr), less likely to be female (40.3% vs 46.7% vs 49.5%), more frequently admitted to the ICU (59.3% [684/1,153] vs 54.9% [1,810/3,297] vs 15% [1,042/6,945]), more frequently required ventilatory support (39.3% [453/1,153] vs 31.8% [1,049/3,297] vs 6.0% [417/6,945]), had longer median hospital length of stay (9 [5,16] vs 5 [3,8] vs 7. [4,13] d), and were more likely to die in the hospital (39.2% [452/1,153] vs 22.3% [735/3,297] vs 6.4% [444/6,945]).

CONCLUSIONS: During the COVID-19 pandemic the sickest cohort of patients was those receiving an explicit ICD-10 code of sepsis + a COVID-19 diagnosis. A significant percentage of COVID-19 diagnosis-only patients appear to have been under-coded as they received a level of critical care (ICU admission; intubation) suggestive of the presence of acute organ dysfunction during their admission.

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

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