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COVID-19 Patients with ARDS Face Significant Financial Effects in Recovery

COVID-19 Patients with ARDS Face Significant Financial Effects in Recovery

Long hospitalizations lead to large medical bills, with serious physical and emotional consequences for those recovering from critical illness.

It begins with shortness of breath. And for approximately one-third of patients, acute respiratory distress syndrome, or ARDS, ends in death. For those who survive, their lives are often turned upside-down. Michigan Medicine researchers have been investigating the downstream effects of ARDS for years. As the COVID-19 pandemic rages on, their work has relevance for hundreds of thousands of new patients.

“The way COVID-19 kills patients is by depriving them from oxygen,” says Theodore (Jack) Iwashyna, M.D., professor of critical care medicine. “But only a third or fewer of COVID-19 patients who develop respiratory failure die. Most survive, and we need research that helps them not just survive but really heal.”

A team led by Iwashyna wanted to look more closely at how being hospitalized for ARDS affected people months after they were discharged. They interviewed dozens of patients from around the nation. “As we knew from past research, people had new disabilities ranging from general fatigue and weakness to where they couldn’t remember things,” says Katrina Hauschildt of the U-M department of sociology and first author on the study. “A lot of people had emotional difficulties coming to terms with just how sick they had been—a kind of PTSD from being in the ICU.”

June 4, 2020

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