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In this paper we present a detailed analysis of the use of the APACHE II (acute physiological and chronic health evaluation) scoring system on all of the patients admitted to the general intensive care unit at the Bristol Royal Infirmary over a 20-month period. The 6-month survival of 691 adult medical and surgical patients following intensive care was recorded and this data was analysed with admission and daily APACHE II scores using a relational database. Our data confirms the relationship between admission APACHE II scores and outcome, with mean scores decreasing as duration of survival increases. We also demonstrate that the best day one scores are approximately 50% less than the admission score, irrespective of outcome, indicating the benefit of intensive care. By contrast, however, the scores on day one have either not improved or have worsened since admission, reflecting the importance of the pre-morbid health status of the patient in determining outcome from intensive care.