Family and primary care doctors may have been most at risk of dying from COVID

A Penn-led study suggests that in the health care community, workers in hospital settings may be better protected from COVID-19 than the general population.

Among healthcare workers, those in who work in primary care rather than the in-patient hospital setting, may have faced the highest risk of dying from COVID-1. A new study, led by researchers in the Perelman School of Medicine, assessed 1,004 reported cases of COVID-19 deaths among healthcare workers globally as of May 13, 2020, and found that more than half of these reported deaths were among physicians. Notably, however, family physicians appeared to be affected much more often than “frontline,” hospital-based physicians. This report was published in the Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine.

doctor in white coat tending to a patient

“Frontline physicians including anesthesiologists, ICU specialists, emergency room physicians, and nurses form a much smaller group of COVD-19 cases, likely due to better access to personal protective equipment,” says senior author Basavana Goudra, a clinical associate professor of anesthesiology and critical care at Penn.

COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, has by now affected about 17 million people around the world, killing more than 650,000 globally. Health care providers who are caring for COVID-19 patients in the clinic and hospital has meant these workers were at higher risk of contracting the disease, particularly in the first few months of the pandemic when there was widespread shortages of personal protective equipment such as masks, face shields, and gloves.

This story is by Frank Otto. Read more at Penn Medicine News.