WEDNESDAY, Aug. 17, 2022 (HealthDay News) — Health care utilization is elevated in patients with positive severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) results six months after the acute infection, according to a study published online Aug. 12 in JAMA Network Open.

Sara Y. Tartof, Ph.D., from Kaiser Permanente Southern California in Pasadena, and colleagues estimated COVID-19-associated excess health care utilization following acute SARS-CoV-2 infection and described utilization for select post-COVID-19 conditions (PCC) among patients who had positive SARS-CoV-2 test results. The analysis included 127,859 patients with positive test results and a matched cohort with negative test results.

The researchers found that SARS-CoV-2 infection was associated with an increase in health care utilization over six months (ratios of rate ratios [RRRs], 1.04), predominantly for virtual encounters (RRR, 1.14), followed by emergency department visits (RRR, 1.08). For 18 PCCs, COVID-19-associated utilization remained elevated six months from the acute stage of infection, with the largest increase in COVID-19-associated utilization observed for infectious disease sequelae (RRR, 86.00), COVID-19 (RRR, 19.47), alopecia (RRR, 2.52), bronchitis (RRR, 1.85), pulmonary embolism or deep vein thrombosis (RRR, 1.74), and dyspnea (RRR, 1.73). COVID-19-associated excess health care utilization amounted to an additional 212.9 visits per 1,000 patients over six months.

“As health care systems evolve during a highly dynamic and ongoing global pandemic, these data provide valuable evidence to inform long-term strategic resource allocation for patients previously infected with SARS-CoV-2,” the authors write.

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