JOURNAL ARTICLE
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The outcome of critically ill Indigenous patients.

OBJECTIVE: To investigate the short-term outcome of critically ill Indigenous patients.

DESIGN AND PARTICIPANTS: Retrospective cohort study using de-identified audit data from a tertiary intensive care unit (ICU) in Western Australia for the 11-year period 1 January 1993 to 31 December 2003.

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Hospital mortality (crude, and adjusted for severity of illness).

RESULTS: Of 16 757 ICU patients, 1076 (6.4%) were identified as Indigenous. The Indigenous patients were younger and more commonly had chronic liver and renal diseases. Indigenous people represented 3.2% of the population of Western Australia in 2001, but represented 3.1% and 9.5% of all elective and emergency ICU admissions, respectively. Diagnoses of sepsis, pneumonia, trauma, and cardiopulmonary arrest were common among critically ill Indigenous patients. Following emergency admission, the crude hospital mortality for Indigenous patients was higher (22.7% v 19.2%; crude odds ratio, 1.24; 95% CI, 1.04-1.47) than for non-Indigenous patients. The crude hospital mortality of critically ill Indigenous patients was lower than that predicted by the APACHE II prognostic model and was similar to that of non-Indigenous patients after adjusting for severity of illness and chronic health status.

CONCLUSIONS: The pattern of critical illness affecting Indigenous Australians in Western Australia was different from that affecting non-Indigenous patients. The crude hospital mortality was high, but similar to that of non-Indigenous Australians after adjusting for severity of illness and chronic health status.

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