Multicenter study of obstetric admissions to 14 intensive care units in southern England

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To identify pregnant and postpartum patients admitted to intensive care units (ICUs), the cause for their admission, and the proportion that might be appropriately managed in a high-dependency environment (HDU) by using an existing database. To estimate the goodness-of-fit for the Simplified Acute Physiology Score II, the Acute Physiology and Chronic Health Evaluation (APACHE) II, and the APACHE III scoring systems in the obstetrical population.


Retrospective analysis of demographic, diagnostic, treatment, and severity of illness data.


Fourteen ICUs in Southern England.


Pregnant or postpartum (<42 days) admissions between January 1, 1994, and December 31, 1996.



Measurements and Main Results

We identified 210 patients, constituting 1.84% (210 of 11,385) of all ICU admissions and 0.17% (210 of 122,850) of all deliveries. Most admissions followed postpartum complications (hypertensive disease of pregnancy [39.5%] and major hemorrhage [33.3%]). Seven women were transferred to specialist ICUs. There was considerable variation between ICUs with respect to the number and type of interventions required by patients. Some 35.7% of patients stayed in ICU for <2 days and received no specific ICU interventions; these patients might have been safely managed in an HDU. There were seven maternal deaths (3.3%); fetal mortality rate was 20%. The area under the receiver operator characteristic curve and the standardized mortality ratio were 0.92 (confidence interval [CI], 0.85–0.99) and 0.43 for the Simplified Acute Physiology Score II, 0.94 (CI, 0.86–1.0) and 0.24 for APACHE II, and 0.98 (CI, 0.96–1.0) and 0.43 for APACHE III, respectively.


Existing databases can both identify critically ill obstetrical patients and provide important information about them. Obstetrical ICU admissions often require minimal intervention and are associated with low mortality rates. Many might be more appropriately managed in an HDU. The commonly used severity of illness scoring systems are good discriminators of outcome from intensive care admission in this group but may overestimate mortality rates. Severity of illness scoring systems may require modification in obstetrical patients to adjust for the normal physiologic responses to pregnancy.

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