Hospital leaders: Some COVID patients returning with worse symptoms after initial treatment and discharge


AMARILLO, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) — As the Amarillo area continues to struggle with a high rate of COVID-19 hospitalizations, hospital leaders are concerned with coronavirus patients readmitted after being sent home.

The chief medical officers at both Northwest Texas Hospital and BSA hospital said on Wednesday, that as hospitalizations for COVID fluctuate, patients are returning with worse COVID symptoms after being discharged. In other cases, new patients are also adding to that hospitalization total.

“We’re seeing folks that come in and are treated…that are being discharged and appear to be doing well, but then bounce back in a week or two, with more significant evidence of disease,” Dr. Michael Lamanteer, BSA’s chief medical officer, said during this week’s City of Amarillo COVID-19 briefing. “Worsening oxygen levels, increased respiratory distress, sometimes blood clotting.”

Dr. Lamanteer said often, physicians are reporting patients who went to an urgent care center and were confirmed positive, or maybe even had some X-ray findings suggestive of early COVID pneumonia, were being managed as an outpatient, treated, and sent home after improvement. That is, until those patients show up at the BSA facility.

“For folks that we’ve been taking care of, or some in the ER that we sent home appropriately because they were early in the course of their disease, but only to present back a week or two later,” said Dr. Lamanteer. “And they’re unfortunately some of those individuals a percentage of those that go on to a more fulminate inflammatory cascade, and then come in with a more fulminant pneumonia, shortness of breath, low oxygen levels, and as I mentioned, some of those patients are undergoing clotting complication. Which can be quite severe and concerning.”

NWTH’s Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Brian Weis, said patients becoming critically ill very suddenly has been a recurring theme with this virus.

“One thing we try to avoid in hospitals if someone’s in critical care, by the time we make the decision to, to take them out to a normal med surg floor—so to reduce their level of care, we really hope that they’re going to do all right,” said Dr. Weis. “With this virus, we have seen more patients go from ICU to med surg, and then within 48 hours, they become critically ill again and go right back to the ICU.”

Dr. Weis also said NWTH, our area’s main trauma center, continues to have daily holds with critical care patients waiting for beds.

Dr. Weis continued, “But my bigger concern is we’re hearing about the number of patients in the regional facilities, particularly those requiring critical care there right now are waiting to be transferred into a higher level of care. This is concerning because a lot of these regional hospitals just were never built for critical care capacity.”

For Dr. Weis, that is a concern as their staff tries to bring these COVID patients to a higher level of care appropriately.

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