BACKGROUND: During the first wave of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, older patients had an increased risk of hospitalisation and death. Reports on the association of frailty with poor outcome have been conflicting. OBJECTIVE: The aim of the present study was to investigate the independent association between frailty and in-hospital mortality in older hospitalised COVID-19 patients in the Netherlands. METHODS: This was a multicentre retrospective cohort study in 15 hospitals in the Netherlands, including all patients aged ≥70 years, who were hospitalised with clinically confirmed COVID-19 between February and May 2020. Data were collected on demographics, co-morbidity, disease severity and Clinical Frailty Scale (CFS). Primary outcome was in-hospital mortality. RESULTS: A total of 1,376 patients were included (median age 78 years (interquartile range 74-84), 60% male). In total, 499 (38%) patients died during hospital admission. Parameters indicating presence of frailty (CFS 6-9) were associated with more co-morbidities, shorter symptom duration upon presentation (median 4 versus 7 days), lower oxygen demand and lower levels of C-reactive protein. In multivariable analyses, the CFS was independently associated with in-hospital mortality: compared with patients with CFS 1-3, patients with CFS 4-5 had a two times higher risk (odds ratio (OR) 2.0 (95% confidence interval (CI) 1.3-3.0)) and patients with CFS 6-9 had a three times higher risk of in-hospital mortality (OR 2.8 (95% CI 1.8-4.3)). CONCLUSIONS: The in-hospital mortality of older hospitalised COVID-19 patients in the Netherlands was 38%. Frailty was independently associated with higher in-hospital mortality, even though COVID-19 patients with frailty presented earlier to the hospital with less severe symptoms.
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