Association of Surge Conditions with Mortality Among Critically Ill Patients with COVID-19

for the STOP-COVID Investigators

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: To determine whether surge conditions were associated with increased mortality. Design: Multicenter cohort study. Setting: U.S. ICUs participating in STOP-COVID. Patients: Consecutive adults with COVID-19 admitted to participating ICUs between March 4 and July 1, 2020. Interventions: None Measurements and Main Results: The main outcome was 28-day in-hospital mortality. To assess the association between admission to an ICU during a surge period and mortality, we used two different strategies: (1) an inverse probability weighted difference-in-differences model limited to appropriately matched surge and non-surge patients and (2) a meta-regression of 50 multivariable difference-in-differences models (each based on sets of randomly matched surge- and non-surge hospitals). In the first analysis, we considered a single surge period for the cohort (March 23 – May 6). In the second, each surge hospital had its own surge period (which was compared to the same time periods in matched non-surge hospitals). Our cohort consisted of 4342 ICU patients (average age 60.8 [sd 14.8], 63.5% men) in 53 U.S. hospitals. Of these, 13 hospitals encountered surge conditions. In analysis 1, the increase in mortality seen during surge was not statistically significant (odds ratio [95% CI]: 1.30 [0.47-3.58], p =.6). In analysis 2, surge was associated with an increased odds of death (odds ratio 1.39 [95% CI, 1.34-1.43], p <.001). Conclusions: Admission to an ICU with COVID-19 in a hospital that is experiencing surge conditions may be associated with an increased odds of death. Given the high incidence of COVID-19, such increases would translate into substantial excess mortality.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)500-509
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Intensive Care Medicine
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2022


  • COVID-19
  • intensive care unit
  • mortality
  • occupancy
  • surge

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Critical Care and Intensive Care Medicine


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