Six-Month Morbidity and Mortality among Intensive Care Unit Patients Receiving Life-Sustaining Therapy. A Prospective Cohort Study

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Abstract

Rationale:

Understanding long-term outcomes of critically ill patients may inform shared decision-making in the intensive care unit (ICU).

Objectives:

To quantify 6-month functional outcomes of general ICU patients, and develop a multivariable model comprising factors present during the first ICU day to predict which patients will return to their baseline function 6 months later.

Methods:

We conducted a prospective cohort study in three medical ICUs and two surgical ICUs in three hospitals. We enrolled patients who spent at least 3 days in the ICU and received mechanical ventilation for more than 48 hours and/or vasoactive infusions for more than 24 hours.

Results:

We measured 6-month outcomes including survival, return to original place of residence, and physical and cognitive function. Of 303 enrolled patients, 299 (98.7%) had complete follow-up at 6 months. Among the 169 patients (56.5%) who survived to 6 months, 82.8% returned home, 81.9% were able to toilet, 71.3% were able to ambulate 10 stairs, and 62.4% reported normal cognition. Overall, 31.1% of patients returned to their baseline status on these measures. Factors associated with not returning to baseline included higher APACHE III score, being a medical patient, older age, nonwhite race, recent hospitalization, prior transplantation, and a history of cancer or of neurologic or liver disease. A model including only these Day 1 factors had good discrimination (area under receiver operating characteristic curve, 0.778; 95% confidence interval, 0.724-0.832) and calibration (difference between observed and expected P value, 0.36).

Conclusions:

Among patients spending at least 3 days in an ICU and requiring even brief periods of life-sustaining therapy, nearly one-half will be dead and less than one-third will have returned to their baseline status at 6 months. Of those who survive, the majority of patients will be back at home at 6 months. Future research is needed to validate this multivariable model, including readily available patient characteristics available on the first ICU day, that seems to identify patients who will return to baseline at 6 months.

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