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Effect of length of stay in intensive care unit on hospital and long-term mortality of critically ill adult patients

T. A. Williams, K. M. Ho, G. J. Dobb, J. C. Finn, M. Knuiman, S. A. R. Webb

BJA: British Journal of Anaesthesia

Medical Journal

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Critical Care Physicians, Former ICU Patients, Former ICU Patients' Family Members, Friends or Caregivers, General Public

No

Background
Critical illness leading to prolonged length of stay (LOS) in an intensive care unit (ICU) is associated with significant mortality and resource utilization. This study assessed the independent effect of ICU LOS on in-hospital and long-term mortality after hospital discharge.
Methods
Clinical and mortality data of 22 298 patients, aged 16 yr and older, admitted to ICU between 1987 and 2002 were included in this linked-data cohort study. Cox's regression with restricted cubic spline function was used to model the effect of LOS on in-hospital and long-term mortality after adjusting for age, gender, acute physiology score (APS), maximum number of organ failures, era of admission, elective admission, Charlson's co-morbidity index, and diagnosis. The variability each predictor explained was calculated by the percentage of the χ2 statistic contribution to the total χ2 statistic.
Results
Most hospital deaths occurred within the first few days of ICU admission. Increasing LOS in ICU was not associated with an increased risk of in-hospital mortality after adjusting for other covariates, but was associated with an increased risk of long-term mortality after hospital discharge. The variability on the long-term mortality effect associated with ICU LOS (2.3%) appeared to reach a plateau after the first 10 days in ICU and was not as important as age (35.8%), co-morbidities (18.6%), diagnosis (10.9%), and APS (3.6%).
Conclusions
LOS in ICU was not an independent risk factor for in-hospital mortality, but it had a small effect on long-term mortality after hospital discharge after adjustment for other risk factors.

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