Length of stay in ICU of Covid-19 patients in England, March - May 2020

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Introduction Length of Stay (LoS) in Intensive Care Units (ICUs) is an important measure for planning beds capacity during the Covid-19 pandemic. However, as the pandemic progresses and we learn more about the disease, treatment and subsequent LoS in ICU may change. Objectives To investigate the LoS in ICUs in England associated with Covid-19, correcting for censoring, and to evaluate the effect of known predictors of Covid-19 outcomes on ICU LoS. Data sources We used retrospective data on Covid-19 patients, admitted to ICU between 6 March and 24 May, from the “Covid-19 Hospitalisation in England Surveillance System” (CHESS) database, collected daily from England's National Health Service, and collated by Public Health England. Methods We used Accelerated Failure Time survival models with Weibull and log-normal distributional assumptions to investigate the effect of predictors, which are known to be associated with poor Covid-19 outcomes, on the LoS in ICU. Results Patients admitted before 25 March had significantly longer LoS in ICU (mean = 18.4 days, median = 12), controlling for age, sex, whether the patient received Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation, and a co-morbid risk factors score, compared with the period after 7 April (mean = 15.4, median = 10). The periods of admission reflected the changes in the ICU admission policy in England. Patients aged 50-65 had the longest LoS, while higher co-morbid risk factors score led to shorter LoS. Sex and ethnicity were not associated with ICU LoS. Conclusions The skew of the predicted LoS suggests that a mean LoS, as compared with median, might be better suited as a measure used to assess and plan ICU beds capacity. This is important for the ongoing second and any future waves of Covid-19 cases and potential pressure on the ICU resources. Also, changes in the ICU admission policy are likely to be confounded with improvements in clinical knowledge of Covid-19.

Original languageEnglish
Article number05
Pages (from-to)1411
JournalInternational Journal of Population Data Science
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 3 Mar 2021


  • COVID-19
  • England
  • Intensive care
  • Length of stay
  • Survival analysis


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