These researchers identified 158,445 Scottish health care workers between 18 and 65 years of age who were employed by the National Health Service. They used Scottish employment databases to create linkages to other health-related databases and to identify members of their households (n = 229,905). Additionally, the researchers used these same databases to identify people from the general population. They mined the databases to identify hospitalizations for COVID between March 1, 2020 (when cases of COVID were first identified in Scotland), and June 6, 2020. Among the health care workers, 90,733 (57.3%) had direct patient contact (they used the term “patient-facing”), and 79% were women. During the study period, they identified 6,346 hospitalizations for COVID, 2,097 of which occurred in people between 18 and 65 years of age. Of these, 1,737 (82.8%) occurred in the general population, and health care workers and their household members accounted for 243 (11.6%) and 117 (5.6%), respectively. After adjusting for age, sex, ethnicity, socioeconomic factors, and comorbidities, the overall risk of hospitalization for all health care workers and their households was similar to that of the general population. However, among patient-facing health care workers, while the numbers were small, the risk of hospitalization was much higher (hazard ratio 3.30, 95% CI, 2.13 to 5.13) as was the risk for their household members (hazard ratio 1.79, 95% CI, 1.10 to 2.91). Combining these data with the data in the Research Brief posted on October 23, 2020, summarizing the CDC’s October report on excess mortality attributed to COVID19 ( illustrates the risk to health care workers, their families, and the public. It’s hard to imagine where any profit could be gained from naming COVID as a cause of death.

Written by Henry C. Barry, MD, MS, on November 1, 2020. (Source: Shah ASV, Wood R, Gribben C, et al. Risk of hospital admission with coronavirus disease 2019 in healthcare workers and their households: nationwide linkage cohort study. BMJ. 2020;371:m3582.)


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