Doctors at Lausanne’s CHUV hospital and Geneva’s HUG hospital, which treated the majority of Covid-19 patients in French-speaking Switzerland, have admitted around 270 patients to intensive care (ICU) since March 2020, according to RTS.
Around 96% of these ICU patients were intubated and around 80% survived, a mortality rate of roughly 20%.
ICU mortality rates have been similar in the cantons of Valais (15%), Fribourg (22%) and Neuchâtel (25%). In the canton of Jura all twelve ICU patients survived.
Over time ICU survival rates have increased as medical staff have learned about the disease and its treatment. Treatment with the steroid dexamethasone was a major breakthrough. Jérôme Pugin, HUG’s ICU chief, told RTS that this low-cost drug can save around a third of critical Covid-19 patients.
However, not all hospital systems around the world have experienced ICU survival rates as high as Switzerland.
A recent report in the UK shows a Covid-19 ICU mortality rate of 42%. And a global study published at the end of August 2020 that included data from 24 studies from Canada, China, Denmark, France, Hong Kong, Italy, the Netherlands, Singapore, Spain, the UK and the US, came up with an average global ICU Covid-19 mortality rate of 41.6%.
However, such comparisons are problematic. One study published in The Lancet points out how international comparisons of COVID-19 ICU outcomes are like comparing apples to oranges. A particular problem in relation to these comparisons are variations in clinical decisions around ICU admission. Pressure on hospitals can make a big difference too. Unlike hospitals in some places, Switzerland’s hospitals have not been overwhelmed with Covid-19 patients, although last week a hospital in the canton of Fribourg was under pressure.