Joblessness High Following Respiratory Distress Syndrome

HealthDay News — Nearly half of previously employed acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) survivors are jobless one year after hospital discharge, according to a study published online in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.

Biren B. Kamdar, MD, MBA, MHS, from the David Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles, and colleagues examined the timing of return to work after ARDS during a 12-month longitudinal follow-up. Employment and health care coverage data were provided by ARDS survivors from 43 US ARDSNet hospitals via telephone interviews.

The researchers found that 42% of the 922 consenting survivors were employed before ARDS, with 7 dying by 12-month follow-up. At 12-month follow-up, 44% of 379 previously employed 12-month survivors were jobless. 

Half of enrolled and previously employed survivors returned to work by 13 weeks after hospital discharge after the researchers accounted for competing risks of death and retirement; 68% ever returned by 12 months. Among nonwhite survivors, delays in return to work correlated with longer hospitalization and older age. Seventy-one percent of survivors accrued lost earnings over 12-month follow-up, averaging $26,949 ± $22,447 (60% of pre-ARDS annual earnings). Jobless survivors experienced a 14% absolute decrease and a 16% absolute increase in private health insurance and Medicare and Medicaid, respectively.

“Post-ARDS joblessness is associated with readily identifiable patient and hospital variables, and accompanied by substantial lost earnings and a shift toward government-funded health care coverage,” the authors write.

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Kamdar BB, Huang M, Dinglas VD, et al. Joblessness and lost earnings after ARDS in a 1-year national multicenter study. [published online April 27 2017]. Am J Respir Crit Care Med. doi: 10.1164/rccm.201611-2327OC