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What to Expect After COVID-19 Hospitalization

Timothy Boyer Ph.D.'s picture
Many patients are in for a long recovery after COVID-19 infection.

Here’s the latest on what you might expect after COVID-19 hospitalization according to a recent study of what past patients have experienced.


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According to a Michigan Medicine news release, a quote from the first author of a new study titled “Sixty-Day Outcomes Among Patients Hospitalized With COVID-19” published in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine, has made the news as people are just beginning to realize that contracting and surviving COVID-19 does not mean you will be unscathed from the illness and back to your old self once again.

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"These data suggest that the burden of COVID-19 extends far beyond the hospital and far beyond health. The mental, financial and physical tolls of this disease among survivors appear substantial," says Vineet Chopra, M.D., M.Sc., lead author of the study and chief of hospital medicine at Michigan Medicine, the University of Michigan’s academic medical center.

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“The sheer number of people struggling after COVID brings new urgency to developing programs to better promote and support recovery after acute illness,” added Hallie Prescott, M.D., M.Sc., senior author and pulmonary/critical care physician at the University of Michigan and the VA Ann Arbor Healthcare System and a co-author of the study.

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According to the news release, the study results are based on data “…from more than 1,250 patients treated in 38 hospitals across Michigan this spring and summer, when the state was one of the earliest to experience a peak in cases…” that included medical records and follow-up interviews of recovering patients.

What Many Experienced After COVID-19 Hospitalization

A summary of the study's findings from the news release is listed as follows:

• Within two months of leaving the hospital, nearly 7% of the patients had died, including more than 10% of the patients treated in an intensive care unit.

• Fifteen percent ended up back in the hospital.

• More than 39% of the patients interviewed said they hadn’t gotten back to normal activities yet, two months after leaving the hospital.

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• Twelve percent of the patients said they couldn’t carry out basic care for themselves anymore, or as well as before.

• Nearly 23% said they became short of breath just climbing a flight of stairs.

• One-third had ongoing COVID-like symptoms, including many who still had problems with taste or smell.

• Of those who had jobs before their bout with COVID-19, 40% said they couldn’t return to work; most because of their health and some because they’d lost their job.

• Twenty-six percent of those who had gone back to work said they had to work fewer hours or have reduced duties because of their health.

• Nearly half of those interviewed said they’d been emotionally affected by their experience with COVID-19.

• Thirty-seven percent of those interviewed said their experience with COVID-19 had left them with at least a minor financial impact.

• Nearly 10% said they’d used up most or all of their savings, and 7% said they were rationing food, heat, housing or medications because of cost.

The authors of the study concluded that their study confirms that adverse events after COVID-19 hospitalization are common; and therefore, that policies and clinical and research programs targeting these adverse events need to be addressed.

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Timothy Boyer has a Ph.D. in Molecular and Cellular Biology from the University of Arizona. For 20+ years he has been employed as a freelance health and science writer. Today, with an eye on the latest news, Timothy continues writing about science with a focus on what you need to know for healthier living. For continual updates about health, you can also follow Timothy on Twitter at TimBoyerWrites.

Image Source: Courtesy of Mufid Majnun on Unsplash


Life After COVID-19 Hospitalization: Major Lasting Effects on Health, Work and More” Michigan Medicine news release 12 Nov. 2020.

Sixty-Day Outcomes Among Patients Hospitalized With COVID-19” Vineet Chopra, et al. Annals of Internal Medicine, 2020.