Many At-Risk Kids With COVID Can Be Cared for at Home
A new Australian study found that children who had COVID-19 during the first couple of years of the pandemic could be safely treated at home, taking the burden off hospitals.
Children who had COVID-19 with moderate symptoms or preexisting high-risk conditions could be treated effectively via a Hospital-in-the-Home (HITH) program, according to the study.
The program took pressure off pediatric emergency departments and helped reduce transmission in hospital settings during the first two years of the pandemic, said study author Dr. Laila Ibrahim, of Murdoch Children's Research Institute in Melbourne.
“Children do better if it's possible to manage them at home, and the infectious nature of SARS-CoV-2 increased the imperative to try to keep children out of hospital,” Ibrahim said in an institute news release. “These findings reassure us that care at home has been safe and effective regardless of COVID strain and this takes the burden off inpatient care.”
The study included more than 3,700 children from infancy through age 18 who were referred to HITH care between March 2020 and March 2022. The research found that 421 children with COVID and 3,298 children without COVID received treatment at home, many avoiding hospitalization altogether.
Among the COVID-positive patients, 63% were high-risk and 33% were moderately ill. Only 10% were readmitted to the hospital and just 5% needed medical intervention.
The HITH program had a 21% increase in admissions and a 132% jump in telehealth appointments.
“The benefits of being treated in the home care include improved child quality of life, higher parent satisfaction and avoidance of hospital-acquired infections. We advocate that where possible children should be cared for at home rather than hospital, knowing the severe impact of the pandemic on children's mental health,” said co-author Dr. Penelope Bryant, a pediatrician and associate professor at Murdoch Children's.
Study findings were published in the journal Archives of Disease in Childhood.
The World Health Organization has more on COVID-19 and children.
SOURCE: Murdoch Children's Research Institute, news release, April 18, 2023