Health Workers and Their Families Account for 1 in 6 Hospital COVID-19 Cases

Dawn O'Shea
October 30, 2020

Health care workers and their families account for one in six (17.2%) hospital admissions for COVID-19 in the working age population (18-65 years), finds a study from Scotland published online in BMJ.

Although hospital admission with COVID-19 in this age group was very low overall, the study found that the risk for health care workers and their families was higher compared with other working age adults.

The findings are based on Scottish workforce data for 158,445 health care, 229,905 household members and other members of the general population during the peak period for COVID-19 in Scotland (1 March 2020 to 6 June 2020).

The researchers found that admission to hospital with COVID-19 was uncommon in this group, with an overall risk of <0.5%. Health care workers and their households accounted for 17.2% of all COVID-19-related hospital admissions, even though they represent only 11.2% of the working age population.

After adjusting for factors such as age, sex, ethnicity and comorbidities, the risk of hospital admission for COVID-19 in non-patient facing health care workers and their household members was similar to the risk in the general population.

However, patient-facing health care workers were three times more likely to be admitted to hospital for COVID-19, whereas members of their households were nearly twice as likely to be admitted to hospital for COVID-19 than other working age adults.

Those working in "front door" roles, such as paramedics and emergency department staff, were at the highest risk of hospital admission for COVID-19.

Among health care workers who were admitted, one in eight were admitted into critical care and six (2.5%) died. In admitted household members, one in five were admitted to critical care and 18 (12.9%) died.

It must be noted that this is an observational study. Furthermore, it included predominantly white health care workers, so results may not apply to ethnic minority groups.

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Reviewed on 11/2/2020
SOURCE: Medscape, October 30, 2020. Shah ASV, Wood R, Gribben C, Caldwell D, Bishop J, Weir A, Kennedy S, Reid M, Smith-Palmer A, Goldberg D, McMenamin J, Fischbacher C, Robertson C, Hutchinson S, McKeigue P, Colhoun H, McAllister DA. Risk of hospital admission with coronavirus disease 2019 in healthcare workers and their households: nationwide linkage cohort study. BMJ. 2020 Oct 28. doi: 10.1136/bmj.m3582.

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