A January 27, 2021 research publication titled: Respiratory and Psychophysical Sequelae Among Patients With COVID-19 Four Months After Hospital Discharge, was released in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) with a focus on the post-acute phase of the SARS-COV-2 infection. We continue to hear and learn about a variety of COVID-19 sequelae, the type often is respiratory or a functional sequalae. There is not a lot known of the COVID-19 sequalae so this study sheds some light on this important subject.
The study participants were from Italy and all had a prior hospitalized for COVID-19. There were 238 patients included in COVID-19 sequalae analysis, with the median (IQR) age was 61 (50-71) years, and 142 (59.7%) were men. This study had a four-month post-acute COVID-19 timeframe and the findings indicated that more than half of participants had a significant reduction of diffusing lung capacity for carbon monoxide or measurable functional impairment and approximately one-fifth of patients had symptoms of posttraumatic stress 4 months after discharge. The study noted that age was not associated with reduced diffusing lung capacity for carbon monoxide or impaired motor function.
In order to determine whether patients were experiencing post-traumatic stress symptoms, researchers administered the impact of event scale-revised (IES-R) test. About 57% of patients who were tested were within reference ranges, while 25.6% of patients had mild symptoms, 11.3% had moderate symptoms and 5.9% had severe symptoms, is stated in the study.
Go to the following link to access this interesting study: Respiratory and Psychophysical Sequelae Among Patients With COVID-19 Four Months After Hospital Discharge | Infectious Diseases | JAMA Network Open | JAMA Network
Clinicians and medical researchers continue to learn more and more about COVID-19, not only the acute phase but now also the recovery or post-acute phase. Understanding the prevalence of long lasting sequalae from the COVID-19 virus and disease is something all country governments and healthcare agencies are concerned about. Identifying the characteristics of the etiology and pathophysiology of COVID-19 sequelae will help researchers and providers.
Medical record documentation will be critical to capturing COVID-19 sequelae of course, but provider awareness and education may also be needed. HIM Coding and CDI professionals, having a strong clinical knowledge and understanding that can also be an asset when querying the provider for specificity, etc. In addition, be sure to have a clinical documentation integrity (CDI) program in place within your practice or facility, both inpatient and outpatient in order to identify and address sequalae issues.
COVID-19 and related sequelae coding should be audited frequently in this ever-changing environment we are all in.