UC Irvine Docs Learning to Detect At-Risk Coronavirus Patients Early, Hospital Stays Continues To Rise
With Orange County’s hospitals rolling out new coronavirus patients every day, UC Irvine researchers are rolling out a program that allows doctors and nurses to predict whether a person’s symptoms will get worse within three days.
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“The idea is to identify patients at higher risk who are likely to need more critical care. This allows people to plan and act immediately,” said Dr. Daniel Chow, a UC Irvine radiologist who helped develop the program.
Chow said the program takes into account a wide range of factors, including age, gender, health status, and history.
“This is based on our patient experience in Orange County,” Chow said in a telephone interview Thursday. “We looked at our sick patients who were doing well, and we started observing and compiling these trends.”
He said they included all different aspects in the program.
“So the data helps us make decisions. That kind of thing is really necessary right now, ”said Chow. “It’s a situation where all hands are on deck.”
Chau said he spoke to some doctors in other hospitals to see if they would like to use the program, but nothing official has happened yet.
Dr. Alpesh Amin, chairman of the UCI’s medical division, said the program will also help doctors move patients into specific areas of the hospital more quickly.
“It helps whether a patient has to be admitted or not. This can help us determine whether a patient can be discharged from the hospital or whether a patient should be referred from the intensive care unit, “Amin said in a telephone interview on Thursday. “They use the information, along with their clinical judgment, to make better decisions.”
Meanwhile, OC’s hospitals continue to face a tsunami of coronavirus patients.
As of Thursday, 1,893 people had been hospitalized, 405 of them in intensive care units.
And Orange County is seeing more and more new cases every day.
The County Health Care Agency reported 3,490 cases Thursday.
State health officials estimate that approximately 12% of all new cases end up in hospitals two to three weeks later.
It is a difficult virus for the medical community to fight as some people show no symptoms and still be able to spread it. Others experience mild symptoms such as tiredness and a slight fever. Others end up in intensive care units for days and weeks before turning it off, while other people eventually die from the virus.
Dr. Michael Katz, an intensive care doctor at St. Jude Medical Center in Fullerton, said the hospital needs to put surge plans in place – which means they need to build new beds in different parts of the hospital to cope with the wave of new patients.
“We are definitely heavily involved in our surge coverage plans at this point – internal expansion of the beds in the intensive care unit, redistribution of staff to intensive care areas and we are getting help from outpatients,” said Katz in a Wednesday telephone interview.
Katz, who is also an emergency doctor, said it was easy to build beds, but it was difficult to find more intensive care staff to help the hospital workers already employed.
In order to find more staff and to keep the beds free, the doctors examine on a case-by-case basis whether non-emergency procedures are canceled.
“I don’t know how close we are to personnel restrictions,” he said. “Right now, our needs are being met, which is impressive to me. I didn’t know we could get that far. ”
The situation has worsened to the point where the county health authorities are Forcing hospitals to admit ambulance patientseven when their emergency rooms are full.
Kaiser Permanente is also holding back some non-emergency procedures.
“Our system is currently underutilized as capacity is a moving target as we can move to other rooms. We can reduce our elective surgeries and procedures and we do this and we can put up tents – mobile field hospitals – what we see in our sister hospitals, ”said Dr. Todd Newton, OC Medical Director at Kaiser Permanente.
Newton, also an emergency doctor, said current trends suggest hospitals will get pretty thin soon.
“If everything stays on course we are seeing now, we could see 100%, 150% or even 200% more cases than we do today. Ad where everyone stays up at night and plans. Because that’s going to be a problem, “Newton said in a telephone interview last Friday.
The virus has now killed 1,781 OC residents out of 134,820 confirmed cases.
It has already killed more than three times as many people as the annual average.
In context, Orange County has recorded an average of 20,000 deaths per year since 2016, including 543 annual deaths from flu government health data.
According to these state death statistics, more than 4,600 people die from cancer, more than 2,800 from heart disease, more than 1,400 from Alzheimer’s and strokes to over 1,300 people.
Orange County has already exceeded its annual average of 20,000 deaths, with 21,110 people killed in November, according to November latest available status data.
Andrew Noymer, UC Irvine’s epidemiologist, said the trends could stay the same through mid-January – but that depends on people avoiding large indoor crowds and holiday celebrations, as happened after Thanksgiving when OC saw massive cases.
He said people should avoid crowded places like shopping malls and stay away from restaurants, many of which are still open despite the state’s regional shutdown order.
“But guess what? What if a restaurant opens and nobody wants to leave because the guests are too scared of COVID?” Noymer said in a telephone interview on Tuesday. “We can’t just blame the restaurants. It is everything from us. As I have said many times before: We are the pandemic. “
Here is the latest info on Orange County virus counts from county data:
Infections | Hospital admissions & deaths | City to city data | Demographics
Spencer Custodio is a Voice of OC reporter. You can reach him at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @SpencerCustodio