Assessing Outcomes in Critical Care

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The need to assess a range of outcomes in intensive care is increasingly important as more patients survive episodes of acute, severe illness. In this article, we discuss the relevance of commonly studied outcomes and the strengths and weaknesses of the techniques used to measure them. Short-term mortality is no longer the only important consideration in the evaluation of a therapy. The assessment of longer-term mortality, morbidity, and patient-centered outcomes is necessary. Randomized, controlled trials (RCTs) are frequently adapted to incorporate outcome measures that include cost and quality of life. In addition, observational studies have become more sophisticated and are being used to evaluate issues not amenable to study by RCTs. These developments will provide more comprehensive assessments of critical care interventions and will ultimately enhance the health of the patients we serve.

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