Bloodless intensive care: a case series and review of Jehovah's Witnesses in ICU

G MacLaren, M Anderson
Anaesthesia and Intensive Care 2004, 32 (6): 798-803
The objective of this study was to assess the outcome of Jehovah's Witness (JW) patients admitted to a major Australasian ICU and to review the literature regarding the management of critically ill Jehovah's Witness patients. All Jehovah's Witness patients admitted to the ICU between January 1999 and September 2003 were identified from a prospective database. Their ICU mortality, APACHE II scores, APACHE II risk of death and ICU length of stay were compared to the general ICU population. Twenty-one (0.24%) out of 8869 patients (excluding re-admissions) admitted to the ICU over this period were Jehovah's Witness patients. Their mean APACHE II score was 14.1 (+/- 7.0), the mean APACHE II risk of death was 21.2% (+/- 16.6), and the mean nadir haemoglobin (Hb) was 80.2 g/l (+/- 36.4). Four out of 21 Jehovah's Witness patients died in ICU compared to 782 out of 8848 non- Jehovah's Witness patients (19.0% vs 8.8%, P = 0.10, chi square). The median ICU length of stay in both groups was two days (P = 0.64, Wilcoxon rank sum). The lowest Hb recorded in a survivor was 23 g/l. Jehovah's Witness patients appear to be an uncommon patient population in a major Australasian ICU but are not over-represented when compared with their prevalence in the community. Despite similar severity of illness scores and predicted mortality to those in the general ICU population, there was a trend towards higher mortality in Jehovah's Witness patients.


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