Standardizing ICU COVID-19 care mitigates disparities, Cleveland Clinic study finds

During the first three waves of the pandemic, there were no significant differences in clinical outcomes between racial or ethnic groups hospitalized for COVID-19 at Cleveland Clinic intensive care units, researchers found. 

A team of researchers from the health system used Cleveland Clinic's COVID-19 ICU registry to review data from 2,125 patients admitted between March and December 2020. Sixty percent of the study cohort were white, 33 percent were Black and 4.3 percent were Hispanic. 

Their findings, published Feb. 4 in the Journal of Racial and Ethnic Disparities, showed mortality was comparable between Black and white patients at 30.5 percent and 37.5 percent, respectively. Findings also showed the average length of ICU stay was similar across the groups, and a similar percentage of Black and white COVID-19 patients required ventilation while in the ICU. 

Researchers linked the equitable ICU outcomes to steps Cleveland Clinic took early in the pandemic to standardize care, including leveraging an ICU operations team with representatives from every ICU to streamline communication, share resources and establish best practices, as well as providing COVID-19 training modules for all ICU providers. 

"Our proactive, system-wide strategies were helpful in managing outcomes in the ICU," said Abhijit Duggal, MD, study author and vice chair of Cleveland Clinic's department of critical care. "Ultimately, if we can better manage health disparities on the front end, we can make a bigger impact on outcomes." 


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