Data linkage enables evaluation of long-term survival after intensive care

T A Williams, G J Dobb, J C Finn, M Knuiman, K Y Lee, E Geelhoed, S A R Webb
Anaesthesia and Intensive Care 2006, 34 (3): 307-15
Outcomes of intensive care are important to the patient and for assessment of benefit. Short-term outcomes after critical illness are well described, but less is known about long-term outcomes. This study describes the use of data linkage, combining intensive care unit (ICU) clinical data with administrative morbidity and mortality data, to assess long-term outcomes after treatment in ICU. The hospital-based cohort study was conducted in a 22-bed general ICU in a metropolitan teaching hospital. All patient admissions admitted to ICU from 1 January 1987 to 31 December 2002 were included. The prospective ICU clinical database with patient demographics, ICU diagnoses, severity of illness, daily assessment of organ failures and common daily treatments used was linked using probabilistic methods to the state-wide hospital morbidity and mortality databases to describe long-term survival. There were 26,019 ICU admissions (22,980 patients) with 25,972 records (99.8%) linked to a hospitalization event that included the index ICU admission. Unadjusted survival was 84.7% at 1 year decreasing progressively to 50.7% at 15 years. Age, type of admission, severity of illness (measured by Acute Physiologic and Chronic Health Evaluation (APACHE) II and the presence of organ failure), ICU length of stay, comorbidity (Chronic Health Evaluation and Charlson comorbidity index) and ICU admission diagnosis, were all associated with survival at 1, 3, 5, 10, and 15 year follow-up (P<0.001 at all time points). Linkage of clinical and administrative data provides a feasible method for ascertaining long-term survival after critical illness. Age, admission severity of illness, diagnosis and comorbidity influenced long-term unadjusted survival.

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