Aim: In this feasibility study, we aimed to implement a pilot telemedicine service at our healthcare facility in Faisalabad, Pakistan, and describe our experience. Methods: Telemedicine service was established by Faisalabad Medical University at two of its affiliated locations: 1) A 24-hour COVID-19 Telephone Helpline was established at Director Emergency Office, Allied Hospital and District Headquarter (DHQ) Hospital. 2) A Telemedicine Clinic comprising consultants and postgraduate residents from different specialties was established at Chief Office, Allied Hospital. The data related to the number and categories of calls and advice provided was collected from 27th March 2020 till 31st July 2020. Results: A total of 4582 calls were received, at both locations, during the study period, out of which 2325 callers (51%) were male, and 2257 (49%) were females. At Allied Hospital, 172 patients were advised accordingly for their complaints, whereas, at DHQ Hospital, 320 patients were advised accordingly for their complaints. At the telemedicine clinic only, a total of 2436 calls were received during the study period, 1474 (60%) callers were male, and 962 (40%) were female. The majority of the calls were received by medicine (43%), dermatology (21%), and pediatrics (11%) specialties, respectively. Conclusion: Despite some limitations, the benefits of telemedicine in this COVID-19 era are enormous and it is feasible to implement telemedicine services in developing countries. The developing countries must invest in the internet and technology access to facilitate telemedicine and other e-health services for not only curbing this pandemic but also to promote a more efficient healthcare system after the pandemic.
Aim: To describe the clinical characteristics and outcomes of severe COVID-19 adult patients, with the exploration of risk factors for mortality in the hospital. Methods: This study included 20 adult patients diagnosed with COVID-19 in the ICU of DHQ Hospital Faisalabad (Pakistan) and were categorized into the survival group and death group according to the outcome. We retrieved demographics, clinical manifestations and signs, laboratory indicators, treatment measures, and clinical outcomes from the medical record, and summarized the clinical characteristics and outcomes of these patients. Results: The average age of patients was 70 ± 12 years, of which 40% were male. They were admitted to the ICU 11 days after the onset of symptoms. The most common symptoms on admission were cough (19 cases, 95%), fatigue or myalgia (18 cases, 90%), fever (17 cases, 85%), and dyspnea (16 cases, 80%). Eleven (55%) patients had underlying diseases, of which hypertension was the most common (11 cases, 55%), followed by cardiovascular disease (4 cases, 20%), and diabetes (3 cases, 15%). Six patients (30%) received invasive mechanical ventilation and continuous renal replacement therapy and eventually died. Acute heart injury was the most common complication (19 cases, 95%). Ten (50%) patients died between 2 and 19 days after admission to the ICU. Compared to dead patients, the average body weight of surviving patients was lower (61.70± 2.36 vs 68.60±7.15, P = 0.01), Glasgow Coma Scale score was higher (14.69±0.70 vs 12.70±2.45, P = 0.03), with fewer concurrent shocks (2 vs 10, P = 0.001) and acute respiratory distress syndrome (2 vs 10, P = 0.001). Conclusion: The mortality rate is high in patients with critical COVID-19 disease. Lower Glasgow Coma Scale, higher body weight, and decreased lymphocyte count appear to be potential risk factors for the death of COVID-19 patients in the ICU.
Aim: There is an emerging role of steroids in the management of COVID-19. We aimed to compare the outcome of COVID-19 patients (recovery versus mortality) who were treated with steroids with those who were not treated with steroids during their course of hospital stay. Methods: A retrospective analysis of all moderately to severely ill COVID-19 patients, meeting the inclusion and exclusion criteria, admitted to our center during the study period of four months, was performed. The patients were categorized into two groups: Group I included 25 patients who were given steroids, and Group II also included 25 patients who were not given any steroids during their hospital stay. The primary outcome (recovery versus mortality), length of hospital stay as well as other features were compared between the two groups. Results: The mean length of hospital stay was 9.3 days in the steroids group and 10.9 days in the non-steroids group with a p value of 0.249. None of the patients was shifted to a ventilator in either group. One patient in the steroids group (4%) and two patients in the non-steroids group (8%) needed to be put on high flow nasal cannula. One patient died in the steroids group with a recovery rate of 96%, while two patients died in the non-steroids group with a recovery rate of 92% (p value 0.552). Conclusion: Treatment with steroids in moderately to severely ill COVID-19 patients did not decrease the length of hospital stay or mortality in our study.
Aim: To determine the efficacy of neutrophil/lymphocyte ratio (NLR) as a marker of the severity of COVID-19 pneumonia in the South-Asian population. Methods: This was a prospective, cross-sectional, analytic study conducted at HDU/ICU of District Headquarter Hospital, Faisalabad, Pakistan, from May through July 2020. Sixty-three eligible patients, admitted to the HDU/ICU, were prospectively enrolled in the study. Their NLR, C-reactive protein, serum albumin, and serum fibrinogen were measured. Patients’ demographic characteristics, comorbidities, clinical manifestations of COVID-19 infection, medication use, and history of lung malignancy were retrieved from their medical history. Patients were categorized into either a general group (with mild COVID-19) or a heavy group (with moderate to severe COVID-19). Results: There were significant differences between the two groups in diabetes prevalence, NLR, C-reactive protein, and serum albumin. NLR and C-reactive protein were positively correlated (P < 0.001, P = 0.04 respectively) whereas serum albumin was negatively correlated (P = 0.009) with severe COVID-19. NLR was found to be an independent risk factor for severe COVID-19 pneumonia in the heavy group (OR = 1.264, 95% CI: 1.046~1.526, P = 0.015). The calculated AUC using ROC for NLR was 0.831, with an optimal limit of 4.795, sensitivity of 0.83 and specificity of 0.75, which is highly suggestive of NLR being a marker for early detection of deteriorating severe COVID-19 infection. Conclusion: NLR can be used as an early warning signal for deteriorating severe COVID-19 infection and can provide an objective basis for early identification and management of severe COVID-19 pneumonia.