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Hospital Deaths from Other Causes Up Among Seniors During COVID, New Study Finds

Mar 10, 2022, 08:18 AM by SCOA

Hospital Deaths from Other Causes Up Among Seniors During COVID, New Study Finds

Although COVID-19 (SARS-CoV-2) has seized headlines recently, people are still dying of other causes. Recently, Alexander T. Dang, MD, and Ravi A. Thakker, MD, of the Department of Internal Medicine, University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB), sought to answer this question. The joint first authors, along with their colleagues (Shuang Li, PhD, Erin Hommel, MD, James S. Goodwin, MD, Sealy Center on Aging, UTMB; Hemalkumar B. Mehta, PhD, Department of Epidemiology, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, MD) published their findings in the online journal JAMA Network Open. Their article, "Hospitalizations and Mortality From Non–SARS-CoV-2 Causes Among Medicare Beneficiaries at US Hospitals During the SARS-CoV-2 Pandemic," appears in the March 9 issue of the journal.

The study specifically looked at how the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic affected the hospital care of patients without SARS-CoV-2 illness. They examined 8,147,167 Medicare admissions to 4,455 US hospitals. From March-April 2020, admissions for non-SARS-CoV-2 causes fell sharply, remaining lower through March 2021. However, mortality rates during and after hospitalization were substantially higher, especially for Blacks, Hispanics, and those with low socioeconomic status. The increase in mortality was greater in lower-quality hospitals and those with high numbers of SARS-CoV-2 patients. The prolonged increases in mortality rates after hospitalization for non-SARS-CoV-2 illnesses emphasize the need for improved access to hospital care for these individuals.

Explains Dr. Dang, "Our article found increased mortality rates in the Medicare population for non-SARS-CoV-2 hospital admissions during the pandemic, especially in hospitals with increased prevalence of SARS-CoV-2 and lower-quality hospitals. With the emergence of new variants and the continuation of the pandemic, we believe it is important to create strategies to mitigate risk and provide optimal medical care for non-SARS-CoV-2 illnesses, especially for the populations previously mentioned."

Dr. Thakker further points out the importance of the study. "Our findings demonstrated the continued rise in mortality rates for non-SARS-CoV-2 causes during the pandemic. Given the occurrence of new variants which have burdened hospital systems across the country, disparities in care for non-SARS-CoV-2 illnesses will continue to be present. Closer and equal monitoring should be provided for this critical population, especially those who have classically had poor access to care."

The Sealy Center on Aging at the University of Texas Medical Branch has provided leading aging care since 1995. The Center focuses on improving the health and well-being of the elderly through interdisciplinary research, education, and community service by integrating the resources and activities relevant to aging at UTMB. The Center also implements our research findings in hospitals and clinics, bringing excellence and visibility to our health care system, and improving the health of our seniors.

The Department of Epidemiology, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, MD, the first autonomous department of epidemiology in the world, is focused on generating fundamental and transformative knowledge to improve public health. It is committed to having a diverse and inclusive Departmental community that provides unparalleled training for the next generation of epidemiologists in the competencies, practice, and translation of epidemiology. (WEBSITE:; Twitter: @JohnsHopkinsSPH)

The National Institute on Aging (NIA), one of the 27 Institutes and Centers of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), leads the federal government in conducting and supporting research on aging and the health and well-being of older people. The Institute seeks to understand the nature of aging and the aging process, and diseases and conditions associated with growing older, in order to extend the healthy, active years of life. Since its founding in 1974, NIA research has changed the way America understands aging. Find out more at

Research reported in this publication is supported by the National Institute on Aging of the National Institutes of Health under awards P30 AG024832, UL1-TR001439, K01AG070329. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.

This news is covered in Medical Xpress: Hospital mortality from non-SARS-CoV-2 causes up among seniors.