Respiratory distress is the most common cause of near-term hospital readmission for patients with COVID-19, investigators have found.

Among nearly 2,900 discharged patients studied, 103 returned to the emergency department within two weeks of discharge. Fully 56 of these required hospital readmittance.

Respiratory complications were the chief complaint in half of these patients. They also had higher rates of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and hypertension than their peers who did not return to the hospital, reported Girish Nadkarni, M.D., and colleagues from the Mount Sinai COVID Informatics Center.

Hospital readmittance also was tied to shorter length of initial hospital stay, lower rates of anticoagulation treatment, and lower incidence of intensive care. There were no differences in age, sex or race/ethnicity in readmitted patients compared with those who did not return, the researchers wrote.

The results show that some patients have substantial lingering effects from COVID-19, corresponding author Anuradha Lala, M.D., said. “As we move into a phase where COVID-19 is no longer a novel disease, we must transition our attention to the post-acute phase to understand how to keep patients well and out of the hospital,” she concluded.

The study was published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine.