Role of Intermediate Care Unit Admission and Noninvasive Respiratory Support during the COVID-19 Pandemic: A Retrospective Cohort Study Journal Articles uri icon

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  • <b><i>Background:</i></b> The COVID-19 pandemic has led to shortage of intensive care unit (ICU) capacity. We developed a triage strategy including noninvasive respiratory support and admission to the intermediate care unit (IMCU). ICU admission was restricted to patients requiring invasive ventilation. <b><i>Objectives:</i></b> The aim of this study is to describe the characteristics and outcomes of patients admitted to the IMCU. <b><i>Method:</i></b> Retrospective cohort including consecutive patients admitted between March 28 and April 27, 2020. The primary outcome was the proportion of patients with severe hypoxemic respiratory failure avoiding ICU admission. Secondary outcomes included the rate of emergency intubation, 28-day mortality, and predictors of ICU admission. <b><i>Results:</i></b> One hundred fifty-seven patients with COVID-19-associated pneumonia were admitted to the IMCU. Among the 85 patients admitted for worsening respiratory failure, 52/85 (61%) avoided ICU admission. In multivariate analysis, PaO<sub>2</sub>/FiO<sub>2</sub> (OR 0.98; 95% CI: 0.96–0.99) and BMI (OR 0.88; 95% CI: 0.78–0.98) were significantly associated with ICU admission. No death or emergency intubation occurred in the IMCU. <b><i>Conclusions:</i></b> IMCU admission including standardized triage criteria, self-proning, and noninvasive respiratory support prevents ICU admission for a large proportion of patients with COVID-19 hypoxemic respiratory failure. In the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, IMCUs may play an important role in preserving ICU capacity by avoiding ICU admission for patients with worsening respiratory failure and allowing early discharge of ICU patients.


  • Grosgurin, Olivier
  • Leidi, Antonio
  • Farhoumand, Pauline Darbellay
  • Carballo, Sebastian
  • Adler, Dan
  • Reny, Jean-Luc
  • Bollen Pinto, Bernardo
  • Rossel, Anne
  • Serratrice, Jacques
  • Agoritsas, Thomas
  • Stirnemann, Jérôme
  • Marti, Christophe

publication date

  • 2021