Critically ill healthcare workers with the middle east respiratory syndrome (MERS): A multicenter study

PLoS One
15 Nov 2018
Shalhoub S, Al-Hameed F, Mandourah Y, Balkhy HH, Al-Omari A, Al Mekhlafi GA, Kharaba A, Alraddadi B, Almotairi A, Al Khatib K, Abdulmomen A, Qushmaq I, Mady A, Solaiman O, Al-Aithan AM, Al-Raddadi R, Ragab A, Al Harthy A, Al Qasim
Jose J, Al-Ghamdi G, Merson L, Fowler R, Hayden FG, Arabi YM


Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV) leads to healthcare-associated transmission to patients and healthcare workers with potentially fatal outcomes.


We aimed to describe the clinical course and functional outcomes of critically ill healthcare workers (HCWs) with MERS.


Data on HCWs was extracted from a multi-center retrospective cohort study on 330 critically ill patients with MERS admitted between (9/2012-9/2015). Baseline demographics, interventions and outcomes were recorded and compared between survivors and non-survivors. Survivors were approached with questionnaires to elucidate their functional outcomes using Karnofsky Performance Status Scale.


Thirty-Two HCWs met the inclusion criteria. Comorbidities were recorded in 34% (11/32) HCW. Death resulted in 8/32 (25%) HCWs including all 5 HCWs with chronic renal impairment at baseline. Non-surviving HCW had lower PaO2/FiO2 ratios 63.5 (57, 116.2) vs 148 (84, 194.3), p = 0.043, and received more ECMO therapy compared to survivors, 9/32 (28%) vs 4/24 (16.7%) respectively (p = 0.02).Thirteen of the surviving (13/24) HCWs responded to the questionnaire. Two HCWs confirmed functional limitations. Median number of days from hospital discharge until the questionnaires were filled was 580 (95% CI 568, 723.5) days.


Approximately 10% of critically ill patients with MERS were HCWs. Hospital mortality rate was substantial (25%). Patients with chronic renal impairment represented a particularly high-risk group that should receive extra caution during suspected or confirmed MERS cases clinical care assignment and during outbreaks. Long-term repercussions of critical illness due to MERS on HCWs in particular, and patients in general, remain unknown and should be investigated in larger studies.