Outcomes from intensive care in patients with COVID-19:
a systematic review and meta-analysis of observational studies
R A Armstrong , A D Kane , T M Cook
The emergence of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) has led to high demand for intensive care services worldwide. However, the mortality of patients admitted to the intensive care unit (ICU) with COVID-19 is unclear. Here, we perform a systematic review and meta-analysis, in line with PRISMA guidelines, to assess the reported ICU mortality for patients with confirmed COVID-19. We searched MEDLINE, EMBASE, PubMed and Cochrane databases up to 31 May 2020 for studies reporting ICU mortality for adult patients admitted with COVID-19. The primary outcome measure was death in intensive care as a proportion of completed ICU admissions, either through discharge from the ICU or death. The definition thus did not include patients still alive on ICU. Twenty-four observational studies including 10,150 patients were identified from centres across Asia, Europe and North America. In-ICU mortality in reported studies ranged from 0 to 84.6%. Seven studies reported outcome data for all patients. In the remaining studies, the proportion of patients discharged from ICU at the point of reporting varied from 24.5 to 97.2%. In patients with completed ICU admissions with COVID-19 infection, combined ICU mortality (95%CI) was 41.6% (34.0-49.7%), I2 = 93.2%). Sub-group analysis by continent showed that mortality is broadly consistent across the globe. As the pandemic has progressed, the reported mortality rates have fallen from above 50% to close to 40%. The in-ICU mortality from COVID-19 is higher than usually seen in ICU admissions with other viral
pneumonias. Importantly, the mortality from completed episodes of ICU differs considerably from the crude mortality rates in some early reports.