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Changes in case-mix and outcomes of critically ill patients in an Australian tertiary intensive care unit

Williams, T.A., Ho, K.M., Dobb, G.J., Finn, J.C., Knuiman, M.W. and Webb, S.A.R. (2010) Changes in case-mix and outcomes of critically ill patients in an Australian tertiary intensive care unit. Anaesthesia and Intensive Care, 38 (4). pp. 703-709.


Critical care service is expensive and the demand for such service is increasing in many developed countries. This study aimed to assess the changes in characteristics of critically ill patients and their effect on long-term outcome. This cohort study utilised linked data between the intensive care unit database and state-wide morbidity and mortality databases. Logistic and Cox regression was used to examine hospital survival and five-year survival of 22,298 intensive care unit patients, respectively. There was a significant increase in age, severity of illness and Charlson Comorbidity Index of the patients over a 16-year study period. Although hospital mortality and median length of intensive care unit and hospital stay remained unchanged, one- and five-year survival had significantly improved with time, after adjusting for age, gender, severity of illness, organ failure, comorbidity, ‘new’ cancer and diagnostic group. Stratified analyses showed that the improvement in five-year survival was particularly strong among patients admitted after cardiac surgery (P=0.001). In conclusion, although critical care service is increasingly being provided to patients with a higher severity of acute and chronic illnesses, long-term survival outcome has improved with time suggesting that critical care service may still be cost-effectiveness despite the changes in case-mix.

Item Type: Journal Article
Publisher: Australian Society of Anaesthetists
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