More than 20% of confirmed cases of Covid-19 in Spain occurred in toilets due to the exposure that work in hospitals entails and the lack of protection that this group suffered during the first wave of the virus. However, contrary to what one might think, a study prepared from the Covid registry of the Spanish Society of Internal Medicine (SEMI) points out that the risk of death and complications among these health professionals is lower than among the general populationl.
During these months of the pandemic, there was a suspicion that health workers, being in contact with seriously ill Covid-19 patients, could -being infected- experience a worse evolution based on a higher viral load. It is not like this.
The study, which has been published in the PLOS ONE Scientific Journal, suggests that it suggests that occupational exposure to Covid-19 in healthcare professionals does not lead to more clinical severity or mortality. In addition, they also revealed that hospitalized healthcare workers in the context of SARS-CoV-2 infection had “fewer comorbidities, milder symptoms and a better prognosis” than non-healthcare workers.
In this study, data from 4,393 patients between the ages of 20 and 65, of which 419 were healthcare professionals and 3,974 non-healthcare workers. The median age of health professionals was 52 years and 62.4% were women.
Among the health workers, 142 (33.9%) were doctors, 107 (25.5%) were nurses, 98 (23.4%) were nursing assistants, and 72 (17.2%) held other positions and functions in the health field. The departments to which most of them belonged were Primary Care (16.6%), Emergency Service (11.3%) and Internal Medicine (11.3%).
In the study, approximately 300 variables, including epidemiological data, RT-PCR data, personal medical and medication history, symptoms and examination findings on admission, laboratory and diagnostic imaging tests, drug treatment, respiratory support during hospitalization, complications and death during hospitalization , as well as readmissions and survival 30 days after diagnosis. The comorbidity using the Charlson comorbidity index.
Milder symptoms among toilets
The prevalence of comorbidities and serious radiological findings at hospital admission were less frequent in the group of healthcare professionals and more common in the group of non-healthcare workers (these findings include, for example, pleural effusion). Nevertheless, there were no differences regarding the need for respiratory support and the need for admission to the ICU between both groups, although sepsis (1.7% in healthcare workers vs. 3.9% in non-healthcare workers) and in-hospital mortality (0.7% vs. 4.8%) were less frequent among healthcare personnel.
Moderate and severe dependence was more frequent in non-health workers. An interesting finding from the study was that upon admission, the health worker had milder symptoms, such as loss of smell or taste and arthralgia, as well as a better analytical profile.
This better clinical and analytical profile that was detected in the health worker at admission may be due to his knowledge of the mild symptoms of Covid-19 and his ability to identify them himself. On the other hand, survival at 30 days was slightly longer among health workers than in non-health workers (96.8% versus 85.1%).