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College of Medicine researchers help develop COVID-19 severity prediction tool

Penn State College of Medicine researchers were part of a team that developed and validated a tool that may help physicians determine which COVID-19 patients are more likely to need intensive care. Some of these tools, known as clinical prediction rules, exist for COVID-19, but require laboratory tests that take a long time to yield results or are only available in an emergency room.

Dr. Aleksandra Zgierska, Jeanne L. and Thomas L. Leaman Endowed Professor and vice chair of research in the Department of Family and Community Medicine, and Dr. Robert Lennon, associate professor of family and community medicine and affiliate faculty at Penn State Law, were part of a team led by Dr. Mark Ebell, a family medicine physician and researcher at the University of Georgia’s College of Public Health. They used de-identified patient data from six major university hospitals – including Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center – to collect information on patient characteristics, including co-morbidities, biomarkers routinely assessed upon hospital admission and how hospitalized patients fared with COVID-19.

The team ran statistical analyses on the data to learn which variables could predict a patient having severe COVID-19 and worse outcomes. Age was the dominant predictor of severity, as well as having asthma. The researchers hope to further test their prediction rules using data derived from a new, larger group of patients.

The researchers declared no funding support or conflicts of interest.

Read the manuscript from the Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine

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