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1.  Circulating Mitochondrial DNA in Patients in the ICU as a Marker of Mortality: Derivation and Validation 
PLoS Medicine  2013;10(12):e1001577.
In this paper, Choi and colleagues analyzed levels of mitochondrial DNA in two prospective observational cohort studies and found that increased mtDNA levels are associated with ICU mortality, and improve risk prediction in medical ICU patients. The data suggests that mtDNA could serve as a viable plasma biomarker in MICU patients.
Background
Mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) is a critical activator of inflammation and the innate immune system. However, mtDNA level has not been tested for its role as a biomarker in the intensive care unit (ICU). We hypothesized that circulating cell-free mtDNA levels would be associated with mortality and improve risk prediction in ICU patients.
Methods and Findings
Analyses of mtDNA levels were performed on blood samples obtained from two prospective observational cohort studies of ICU patients (the Brigham and Women's Hospital Registry of Critical Illness [BWH RoCI, n = 200] and Molecular Epidemiology of Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome [ME ARDS, n = 243]). mtDNA levels in plasma were assessed by measuring the copy number of the NADH dehydrogenase 1 gene using quantitative real-time PCR. Medical ICU patients with an elevated mtDNA level (≥3,200 copies/µl plasma) had increased odds of dying within 28 d of ICU admission in both the BWH RoCI (odds ratio [OR] 7.5, 95% CI 3.6–15.8, p = 1×10−7) and ME ARDS (OR 8.4, 95% CI 2.9–24.2, p = 9×10−5) cohorts, while no evidence for association was noted in non-medical ICU patients. The addition of an elevated mtDNA level improved the net reclassification index (NRI) of 28-d mortality among medical ICU patients when added to clinical models in both the BWH RoCI (NRI 79%, standard error 14%, p<1×10−4) and ME ARDS (NRI 55%, standard error 20%, p = 0.007) cohorts. In the BWH RoCI cohort, those with an elevated mtDNA level had an increased risk of death, even in analyses limited to patients with sepsis or acute respiratory distress syndrome. Study limitations include the lack of data elucidating the concise pathological roles of mtDNA in the patients, and the limited numbers of measurements for some of biomarkers.
Conclusions
Increased mtDNA levels are associated with ICU mortality, and inclusion of mtDNA level improves risk prediction in medical ICU patients. Our data suggest that mtDNA could serve as a viable plasma biomarker in medical ICU patients.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
Intensive care units (ICUs, also known as critical care units) are specialist hospital wards that provide care for people with life-threatening injuries and illnesses. In the US alone, more than 5 million people are admitted to ICUs every year. Different types of ICUs treat different types of problems. Medical ICUs treat patients who, for example, have been poisoned or who have a serious infection such as sepsis (blood poisoning) or severe pneumonia (inflammation of the lungs); trauma ICUs treat patients who have sustained a major injury; cardiac ICUs treat patients who have heart problems; and surgical ICUs treat complications arising from operations. Patients admitted to ICUs require constant medical attention and support from a team of specially trained nurses and physicians to prevent organ injury and to keep their bodies functioning. Monitors, intravenous tubes (to supply essential fluids, nutrients, and drugs), breathing machines, catheters (to drain urine), and other equipment also help to keep ICU patients alive.
Why Was This Study Done?
Although many patients admitted to ICUs recover, others do not. ICU specialists use scoring systems (algorithms) based on clinical signs and physiological measurements to predict their patients' likely outcomes. For example, the APACHE II scoring system uses information on heart and breathing rates, temperature, levels of salts in the blood, and other signs and physiological measurements collected during the first 24 hours in the ICU to predict the patient's risk of death. Existing scoring systems are not perfect, however, and “biomarkers” (molecules in bodily fluids that provide information about a disease state) are needed to improve risk prediction for ICU patients. Here, the researchers investigate whether levels of circulating cell-free mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) are associated with ICU deaths and whether these levels can be used as a biomarker to improve risk prediction in ICU patients. Mitochondria are cellular structures that produce energy. Levels of mtDNA in the plasma (the liquid part of blood) increase in response to trauma and infection. Moreover, mtDNA activates molecular processes that lead to inflammation and organ injury.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers measured mtDNA levels in the plasma of patients enrolled in two prospective observational cohort studies that monitored the outcomes of ICU patients. In the Brigham and Women's Hospital Registry of Critical Illness study, blood was taken from 200 patients within 24 hours of admission into the hospital's medical ICU. In the Molecular Epidemiology of Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome study (acute respiratory distress syndrome is a life-threatening inflammatory reaction to lung damage or infection), blood was taken from 243 patients within 48 hours of admission into medical and non-medical ICUs at two other US hospitals. Patients admitted to medical ICUs with a raised mtDNA level (3,200 or more copies of a specific mitochondrial gene per microliter of plasma) had a 7- to 8-fold increased risk of dying within 28 days of admission compared to patients with mtDNA levels of less than 3,200 copies/µl plasma. There was no evidence of an association between raised mtDNA levels and death among patients admitted to non-medical ICUs. The addition of an elevated mtDNA level to a clinical model for risk prediction that included the APACHE II score and biomarkers that are already used to predict ICU outcomes improved the net reclassification index (an indicator of the improvement in risk prediction algorithms offered by new biomarkers) of 28-day mortality among medical ICU patients in both studies.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings indicate that raised mtDNA plasma levels are associated with death in medical ICUs and show that, among patients in medical ICUs, measurement of mtDNA plasma levels can improve the prediction of the risk of death from the APACHE II scoring system, even when commonly measured biomarkers are taken into account. These findings do not indicate whether circulating cell-free mtDNA increased because of the underlying severity of illness or whether mtDNA actively contributes to the disease process in medical ICU patients. Moreover, they do not provide any evidence that raised mtDNA levels are associated with an increased risk of death among non-medical (mainly surgical) ICU patients. These findings need to be confirmed in additional patients, but given the relative ease and rapidity of mtDNA measurement, the determination of circulating cell-free mtDNA levels could be a valuable addition to the assessment of patients admitted to medical ICUs.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001577.
The UK National Health Service Choices website provides information about intensive care
The Society of Critical Care Medicine provides information for professionals, families, and patients about all aspects of intensive care
MedlinePlus provides links to other resources about intensive care (in English and Spanish)
The UK charity ICUsteps supports patients and their families through recovery from critical illness; its booklet Intensive Care: A Guide for Patients and Families is available in English and ten other languages; its website includes patient experiences and relative experiences of treatment in ICUs
Wikipedia has a page on ICU scoring systems (note that Wikipedia is a free online encyclopedia that anyone can edit; available in several languages)
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001577
PMCID: PMC3876981  PMID: 24391478
2.  Retrospective analysis of outcome of women with breast or gynaecological cancer in the intensive care unit 
JRSM Short Reports  2013;4(1):2.
Objectives
Advances in oncological care have led to improved short and long-term outcomes of female patients with breast and gynecological cancer but little is known about their prognosis when admitted to the intensive care unit (ICU). Our aim was to describe the epidemiology of patients with women's cancer in ICU.
Design
Retrospective analysis of data of patients with breast and gynecological cancer in ICU between February 2004 and July 2008.
Setting
ICU in a tertiary referral centre in London.
Participants
Nineteen critically ill women with breast or gynaecological cancer.
Main outcome measures
ICU and six-month outcome.
Results
Eleven women had breast cancer and eight patients had gynaecological cancer. Twelve patients were known to have metastatic disease. The main reasons for admission to ICU were sepsis (94.7%), respiratory failure (36.8%) and need for vasoactive support (26.3%). ICU mortality was 31.6%. There was no difference in age and Acute Physiology and Chronic Health Evaluation (APACHE) II and Sequential Organ Failure Assessment (SOFA) score on admission to ICU between ICU survivors and non-survivors. During their stay in ICU, non-survivors had significantly more organ failure. Six-month mortality was 68.4%. Four patients had >1 admission to ICU.
Conclusions
ICU outcome of critically ill women with breast or gynaecological cancer was similar to that of other non-cancer patient cohorts but six-month mortality was significantly higher. The decision to admit patients with women's cancer to the ICU should depend on the severity of the acute illness rather than factors related to the underlying malignancy. More research is needed to explore the outcome of patients with women's cancer after discharge from ICU.
doi:10.1258/shorts.2012.012036
PMCID: PMC3572657  PMID: 23413404
3.  Critical illness in systemic lupus erythematosus and the antiphospholipid syndrome 
Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases  2002;61(5):414-421.
Objectives: To investigate the causes, course, and outcome of critical illness requiring emergency admission to the intensive care unit (ICU) in patients with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) or the antiphospholipid syndrome (APS), or both.
Methods: Critically ill patients with SLE or APS, or both, admitted to a London teaching hospital ICU over a 15 year period were studied. Demographic, diagnostic, physiological, laboratory, and survival data were analysed. Kaplan-Meier survival curves were constructed by age, time from first diagnosis of SLE, and time from first ICU admission. The log rank test and a backwards stepwise Cox regression were used to identify factors associated with reduced survival.
Results: Sixty one patients with SLE alone (39%) and/or APS (61%) required 76 emergency admissions to the ICU. Patients had high severity of illness scores (median APACHE II 22 (range 8–45)) and multiorgan dysfunction. The primary diagnoses for patients admitted were infection in 31/76 (41%), renal disease in 16/76 (21%), cardiovascular disease in 12/76 (16%), and coagulopathies in 11/76 (14%). The commonest secondary diagnosis was renal dysfunction (49%). Factors associated with an increased risk of death were cyclophosphamide before admission, low white cell count, and high severity of illness score. Before adjustment for these factors renal disease had a strong adverse effect on long term survival (analysis by age at diagnosis p=0.005, analysis by time since first ICU admission, p=0.07). After adjustment, infection at admission to ICU was associated with an increased ICU mortality (p=0.02) and was the cause of death in 13/17 patients who died in the ICU. Similarly, after adjustment, APS was associated with reduced ICU survival (p=0.1) and reduced long term (p=0.03) survival. Seventeen patients (28%) died in the ICU, and 31 patients (51%) had died by the last follow up. Median time from ICU admission to death was four years. Overall five year survival from the first ICU admission was 43%.
Conclusion: Critical illness requiring ICU admission may occur in patients with SLE and APS. In this study, ICU survival was better than previously described, but long term survival was poor. Cyclophosphamide administration, low white cell count, and high severity of illness score were associated with reduced survival. Before adjustment for these factors, only renal disease had an adverse effect on outcome but after adjustment, infection and APS reduced survival.
doi:10.1136/ard.61.5.414
PMCID: PMC1754095  PMID: 11959765
4.  Admission factors associated with hospital mortality in patients with haematological malignancy admitted to UK adult, general critical care units: a secondary analysis of the ICNARC Case Mix Programme Database 
Critical Care  2009;13(4):R137.
Introduction
Patients with haematological malignancy admitted to intensive care have a high mortality. Adverse prognostic factors include the number of organ failures, invasive mechanical ventilation and previous bone marrow transplantation. Severity-of-illness scores may underestimate the mortality of critically ill patients with haematological malignancy. This study investigates the relationship between admission characteristics and outcome in patients with haematological malignancies admitted to intensive care units (ICUs) in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, and assesses the performance of three severity-of-illness scores in this population.
Methods
A secondary analysis of the Intensive Care National Audit and Research Centre (ICNARC) Case Mix Programme Database was conducted on admissions to 178 adult, general ICUs in England, Wales and Northern Ireland between 1995 and 2007. Multivariate logistic regression analysis was used to identify factors associated with hospital mortality. The Acute Physiology and Chronic Health Evaluation (APACHE) II score, Simplified Acute Physiology Score (SAPS) II and ICNARC score were evaluated for discrimination (the ability to distinguish survivors from nonsurvivors); and the APACHE II, SAPS II and ICNARC mortality probabilities were evaluated for calibration (the accuracy of the estimated probability of survival).
Results
There were 7,689 eligible admissions. ICU mortality was 43.1% (3,312 deaths) and acute hospital mortality was 59.2% (4,239 deaths). ICU and hospital mortality increased with the number of organ failures on admission. Admission factors associated with an increased risk of death were bone marrow transplant, Hodgkin's lymphoma, severe sepsis, age, length of hospital stay prior to intensive care admission, tachycardia, low systolic blood pressure, tachypnoea, low Glasgow Coma Score, sedation, PaO2:FiO2, acidaemia, alkalaemia, oliguria, hyponatraemia, hypernatraemia, low haematocrit, and uraemia. The ICNARC model had the best discrimination of the three scores analysed, as assessed by the area under the receiver operating characteristic curve of 0.78, but all scores were poorly calibrated. APACHE II had the highest accuracy at predicting hospital mortality, with a standardised mortality ratio of 1.01. SAPS II and the ICNARC score both underestimated hospital mortality.
Conclusions
Increased hospital mortality is associated with the length of hospital stay prior to ICU admission and with severe sepsis, suggesting that, if appropriate, such patients should be treated aggressively with early ICU admission. A low haematocrit was associated with higher mortality and this relationship requires further investigation. The severity-of-illness scores assessed in this study had reasonable discriminative power, but none showed good calibration.
doi:10.1186/cc8016
PMCID: PMC2750195  PMID: 19706163
5.  Clinical review: Respiratory failure in HIV-infected patients - a changing picture 
Critical Care  2013;17(3):228.
Respiratory failure in HIV-infected patients is a relatively common presentation to ICU. The debate on ICU treatment of HIV-infected patients goes on despite an overall decline in mortality amongst these patients since the AIDS epidemic. Many intensive care physicians feel that ICU treatment of critically ill HIV patients is likely to be futile. This is mainly due to the unfavourable outcome of HIV patients with Pneumocystis jirovecii pneumonia who need mechanical ventilation. However, the changing spectrum of respiratory illness in HIV-infected patients and improved outcome from critical illness remain under-recognised. Also, the awareness of certain factors that can affect their outcome remains low. As there are important ethical and practical implications for intensive care clinicians while making decisions to provide ICU support to HIV-infected patients, a review of literature was undertaken. It is notable that the respiratory illnesses that are not directly related to underlying HIV disease are now commonly encountered in the highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) era. The overall incidence of P. jirovecii as a cause of respiratory failure has declined since the AIDS epidemic and sepsis including bacterial pneumonia has emerged as a frequent cause of hospital and ICU admission amongst HIV patients. The improved overall outcome of HIV patients needing ICU admission is related to advancement in general ICU care, including adoption of improved ventilation strategies. An awareness of respiratory illnesses in HIV-infected patients along with an appropriate diagnostic and treatment strategy may obviate the need for invasive ventilation and improve outcome further. HIV-infected patients presenting with respiratory failure will benefit from early admission to critical care for treatment and support. There is evidence to suggest that continuing or starting HAART in critically ill HIV patients is beneficial and hence should be considered after multidisciplinary discussion. As a very high percentage (up to 40%) of HIV patients are not known to be HIV infected at the time of ICU admission, the clinicians should keep a low threshold for requesting HIV testing for patients with recurrent pneumonia.
doi:10.1186/cc12552
PMCID: PMC3706935  PMID: 23806117
6.  Pediatric Intensive Care Unit admission criteria for haemato-oncological patients: a basis for clinical guidelines implementation 
Pediatric Reports  2011;3(2):e13.
Recent advances in supportive care and progress in the development and use of chemotherapy have considerably improved the prognosis of many children with malignancy, thus the need for intensive care admission and management is increasing, reaching about 40% of patients throughout the disease course. Cancer remains a major death cause in children, though outcomes have considerably improved over the past decades. Prediction of outcome for children with cancer in Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) obviously requires clinical guidelines, and these are not well defined, as well as admission criteria. Major determinants of negative outcomes remain severe sepsis/septic shock association and respiratory failure, deserving specific approach in children with cancer, particularly those receiving a bone marrow transplantation. A nationwide consensus should be achieved among pediatric intensivists and oncologists regarding the threshold clinical conditions requiring Intensive Care Unit (ICU) admission as well as specific critical care protocols. As demonstrated for the critically ill non-oncologic child, it appears unreasonable that pediatric patients with malignancy can be admitted to an adult Intensive Care Unit ICU. On a national basis a pool of refecence institutions should be identified and early referral to an oncologic PICU is warranted.
doi:10.4081/pr.2011.e13
PMCID: PMC3133495  PMID: 21772950
intensive care; malignancy; Pediatric Intensive Care Unit admission criteria; children; critically ill.
7.  Should highly active antiretroviral therapy be prescribed in critically ill HIV-infected patients during the ICU stay? A retrospective cohort study 
Background
The impact of highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) in HIV-infected patients admitted to the intensive care unit (ICU) remains controversial. We evaluate impact of HAART prescription in HIV-infected patients admitted to the ICU of Tourcoing Hospital from January 2000 to December 2009.
Results
There were 91 admissions concerning 85 HIV-infected patients. Reasons for ICU admission were an AIDS-related diagnosis in 46 cases (51%). Fifty two patients (57%) were on HAART at the time of ICU admission, leading to 21 immunovirologic successes (23%). During the ICU stay, HAART was continued in 29 patients (32%), and started in 3 patients (3%). Only one patient experienced an adverse event related to HAART. Mortality rate in ICU and 6 months after ICU admission were respectively 19% and 27%. Kaplan-Meier estimates of the cumulative unajusted survival probability over 6 months were higher in patients treated with HAART during the ICU stay (Log rank: p = 0.04). No benefit of HAART in ICU was seen in the adjusted survival proportion at 6 months or during ICU stay. Prescription of HAART during ICU was associated with a trend to lower incidence of new AIDS-related events at 6 months (respectively 17% and 34% with and without HAART, p = 0.07), and with higher incidence of antiretroviral resistance after ICU stay (respectively 25% and 7% with and without HAART, p = 0.02).
Conclusions
Our results suggest a lower death rate over 6 months in critically ill HIV-infected patients taking HAART during ICU stay. The optimal time to prescribe HAART in critically ill patients needs to be better defined.
doi:10.1186/1742-6405-9-27
PMCID: PMC3544704  PMID: 23020962
HIV; Intensive care; HAART
8.  Determinants of mortality for adults with cystic fibrosis admitted in Intensive Care Unit: a multicenter study 
Respiratory Research  2006;7(1):14.
Background
Intensive care unit (ICU) admission of adults with cystic fibrosis (CF) is controversial because of poor outcome. This appraisal needs re-evaluation following recent changes in both CF management and ICU daily practice. Objectives were to determine long-term outcome of adults with CF admitted in ICU and to identify prognostic factors.
Methods
Retrospective multicenter study of 60 ICU hospitalizations for 42 adult CF patients admitted between 2000 and 2003. Reason for ICU admission, ventilatory support provided and one-year survival were recorded. Multiple logistic analysis was used to determine predictors of mortality.
Results
Prior to ICU admission, all patients (mean age 28.1 ± 8 yr) had a severe lung disease (mean FEV1 28 ± 12% predicted; mean PaCO2 47 ± 9 mmHg). Main reason for ICU hospitalization was pulmonary infective exacerbation (40/60). At admission, noninvasive ventilation was used in 57% of cases and was successful in 67% of patients. Endotracheal intubation was implemented in 19 episodes. Overall ICU mortality rate was 14%. One year after ICU discharge, 10 of the 28 survivors have been lung transplanted. Among recognized markers of CF disease severity, only the annual FEV1 loss was associated with a poor outcome (HR = 1.47 [1.18–1.85], p = 0.001). SAPSII (HR = 1.08 [1.03–1.12], p < 0.001) and endotracheal intubation (HR = 16.60 [4.35–63.34], p < 0.001) were identified as strong independent predictors of mortality.
Conclusion
Despite advanced lung disease, adult patients with CF admitted in ICU have high survival rate. Endotracheal intubation is associated with a poor prognosis and should be used as the last alternative. Although efforts have to be made in selecting patients with CF likely to benefit from ICU resources, ICU admission of these patients should be considered.
doi:10.1186/1465-9921-7-14
PMCID: PMC1403757  PMID: 16438722
9.  Should C-reactive protein concentration at ICU discharge be used as a prognostic marker? 
BMC Anesthesiology  2010;10:17.
Background
About one third of hospital mortality in critically ill patients occurs after Intensive Care Unit (ICU) discharge. Some authors have recently hypothesized that unresolved or latent inflammation and sepsis may be an important factor that contributes to death following successful discharge from the ICU.
Aim
The aim of our study was to determine the ability of the clinical and inflammatory markers at ICU discharge to predict post-ICU mortality.
Methods
A prospective observational cohort study was conducted during a 14-month period in an 8 bed polyvalent ICU. Acute Physiology and Chronic Health Evaluation (APACHE) II score, Simplified Acute Physiology Score (SAPS) II, Sequential Organ Failure Assessment (SOFA) score, Therapeutic Intervention Scoring System-28 (TISS-28), C-reactive protein (CRP), white cell count (WCC) and body temperature of the day of ICU discharge were collected from patients who survived their first ICU admission.
Results
During this period 156 patients were discharged alive from the ICU. A total of 29 patients (18.6%) died after ICU discharge. There were no differences in clinical and demographic characteristics between survivors and nonsurvivors. C-reactive protein levels at ICU discharge were not significantly different between survivors and nonsurvivors. The area under receiver operating characteristics curves of APACHE II, SAPS II, SOFA, TISS-28, CRP, WCC and body temperature at ICU discharge as prognostic markers of hospital death were 0.76 (95% confidence interval (CI) 0.67-0.86); 0.75 (95% CI 0.66-0.85); 0.72 (95% CI 0.62-0.83); 0.64 (95% CI 0.52-0.77); 0.55 (95% CI 0.43-0.67); 0.55 (95% CI 0.42-0.66) and 0.54 (95% CI 0.44-0.67) respectively. The hospital mortality rate of the patients with CRP <5, 5-10, >10 mg/dL was 15.1%, 16.1% and 33.3% respectively (p = NS).
Conclusions
At ICU discharge serum CRP concentration was a poor marker of post-ICU prognosis. Post-ICU death appears to be unrelated to the persistent inflammatory response.
doi:10.1186/1471-2253-10-17
PMCID: PMC2954920  PMID: 20875120
10.  N-terminal pro-brain natriuretic peptide as an early prognostic factor in cancer patients developing septic shock 
Critical Care  2007;11(2):R37.
Introduction
The overall prognosis of critically ill patients with cancer has improved during the past decade. The aim of this study was to identify early prognostic factors of intensive care unit (ICU) mortality in patients with cancer.
Methods
We designed a prospective, consecutive, observational study over a one-year period. Fifty-one cancer patients with septic shock were enrolled.
Results
The ICU mortality rate was 51% (26 deaths). Among the 45 patients who benefited from transthoracic echocardiography evaluation, 17 showed right ventricular dysfunction, 18 showed left ventricular diastolic dysfunction, 18 showed left ventricular systolic dysfunction, and 11 did not show any cardiac dysfunction. During the first three days of ICU course, N-terminal pro-brain natriuretic peptide (NT-proBNP) levels were significantly higher in patients presenting cardiac dysfunctions compared to patients without any cardiac dysfunction. Multivariate analysis discriminated early prognostic factors (within the first 24 hours after the septic shock diagnosis). ICU mortality was independently associated with NT-proBNP levels at day 2 (odds ratio, 1.2; 95% confidence interval, 1.004 to 1.32; p = 0.022). An NT-proBNP level of more than 6,624 pg/ml predicted ICU mortality with a sensitivity of 86%, a specificity of 77%, a positive predictive value of 79%, a negative predictive value of 85%, and an accuracy of 81%.
Conclusion
We observed that critically ill cancer patients with septic shock have an approximately 50% chance of survival to ICU discharge. NT-proBNP was independently associated with ICU mortality within the first 24 hours. NT-proBNP could be a useful tool for detecting high-risk cancer patients within the first 24 hours after septic shock diagnosis.
doi:10.1186/cc5721
PMCID: PMC2206454  PMID: 17359530
11.  Risk Factors for Severe Outcomes following 2009 Influenza A (H1N1) Infection: A Global Pooled Analysis 
PLoS Medicine  2011;8(7):e1001053.
This study analyzes data from 19 countries (from April 2009 to Jan 2010), comprising some 70,000 hospitalized patients with severe H1N1 infection, to reveal risk factors for severe pandemic influenza, which include chronic illness, cardiac disease, chronic respiratory disease, and diabetes.
Background
Since the start of the 2009 influenza A pandemic (H1N1pdm), the World Health Organization and its member states have gathered information to characterize the clinical severity of H1N1pdm infection and to assist policy makers to determine risk groups for targeted control measures.
Methods and Findings
Data were collected on approximately 70,000 laboratory-confirmed hospitalized H1N1pdm patients, 9,700 patients admitted to intensive care units (ICUs), and 2,500 deaths reported between 1 April 2009 and 1 January 2010 from 19 countries or administrative regions—Argentina, Australia, Canada, Chile, China, France, Germany, Hong Kong SAR, Japan, Madagascar, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Singapore, South Africa, Spain, Thailand, the United States, and the United Kingdom—to characterize and compare the distribution of risk factors among H1N1pdm patients at three levels of severity: hospitalizations, ICU admissions, and deaths. The median age of patients increased with severity of disease. The highest per capita risk of hospitalization was among patients <5 y and 5–14 y (relative risk [RR] = 3.3 and 3.2, respectively, compared to the general population), whereas the highest risk of death per capita was in the age groups 50–64 y and ≥65 y (RR = 1.5 and 1.6, respectively, compared to the general population). Similarly, the ratio of H1N1pdm deaths to hospitalizations increased with age and was the highest in the ≥65-y-old age group, indicating that while infection rates have been observed to be very low in the oldest age group, risk of death in those over the age of 64 y who became infected was higher than in younger groups. The proportion of H1N1pdm patients with one or more reported chronic conditions increased with severity (median = 31.1%, 52.3%, and 61.8% of hospitalized, ICU-admitted, and fatal H1N1pdm cases, respectively). With the exception of the risk factors asthma, pregnancy, and obesity, the proportion of patients with each risk factor increased with severity level. For all levels of severity, pregnant women in their third trimester consistently accounted for the majority of the total of pregnant women. Our findings suggest that morbid obesity might be a risk factor for ICU admission and fatal outcome (RR = 36.3).
Conclusions
Our results demonstrate that risk factors for severe H1N1pdm infection are similar to those for seasonal influenza, with some notable differences, such as younger age groups and obesity, and reinforce the need to identify and protect groups at highest risk of severe outcomes.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
In April 2009, a new strain of influenza A H1N1 was first identified in Mexico and the United States and subsequently spread around the world. In June 2009, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared a pandemic alert phase 6, which continued until August 2010. Throughout the pandemic, WHO and member states gathered information to characterize the patterns of risk associated with the new influenza A H1N1 virus infection and to assess the clinical picture. Although risk factors for severe disease following seasonal influenza infection have been well documented in many countries (for example, pregnancy; chronic medical conditions such as pulmonary, cardiovascular, renal, hepatic, neuromuscular, hematologic, and metabolic disorders; some cognitive conditions; and immunodeficiency), risk factors for severe disease following infection early in the 2009 H1N1 pandemic were largely unknown.
Why Was This Study Done?
Many countries have recently reported data on the association between severe H1N1 influenza and a variety of underlying risk factors, but because these data are presented in different formats, making direct comparisons across countries is difficult, with no clear consensus for some conditions. Therefore, to assess the frequency and distribution of known and new potential risk factors for severe H1N1 infection, this study was conducted to collect data (from 1 April 2009 to 1 January 2010) from surveillance programs of the Ministries of Health or National Public Health Institutes in 19 countries―Argentina, Australia, Canada, Chile, China, France, Germany, Hong Kong (special administrative region), Japan, Madagascar, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Singapore, South Africa, Spain, Thailand, the United States, and the United Kingdom.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
As part of routine surveillance, countries were asked to provide risk factor data on laboratory-confirmed H1N1 in patients who were admitted to hospital, admitted to the intensive care unit (ICU), or had died because of their infection, using a standardized format. The researchers grouped potential risk conditions into four categories: age, chronic medical illnesses, pregnancy (by trimester), and other conditions that were not previously considered as risk conditions for severe influenza outcomes, such as obesity. For each risk factor (except pregnancy), the researchers calculated the percentage of each group of patients using the total number of cases reported in each severity category (hospitalization, admission to ICU, and death). To evaluate the risk associated with pregnancy, the researchers used the ratio of pregnant women to all women of childbearing age (age 15–49 years) at each level of severity to describe the differences between levels.
The researchers were able to collect data on approximately 70,000 patients requiring hospitalization, 9,700 patients admitted to the ICU, and 2,500 patients who died from H1N1 infection. The proportion of patients with H1N1 with one or more reported chronic conditions increased with severity—the median was 31.1% of hospitalized patients, 52.3% of patients admitted to the ICU, and 61.8% of patients who died. For all levels of severity, pregnant women in their third trimester consistently accounted for the majority of the total of pregnant women. The proportion of patients with obesity increased with increasing disease severity—median of 6% of hospitalized patients, 11.3% of patients admitted to the ICU, and 12.0% of all deaths from H1N1.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings show that risk factors for severe H1N1 infection are similar to those for seasonal influenza, with some notable differences: a substantial proportion of people with severe and fatal cases of H1N1 had pre-existing chronic illness, which indicates that the presence of chronic illness increases the likelihood of death. Cardiac disease, chronic respiratory disease, and diabetes are important risk factors for severe disease that will be especially relevant for countries with high rates of these illnesses. Approximately 2/3 of hospitalized people and 40% of people who died from H1N1 infection did not have any identified pre-existing chronic illness, but this study was not able to comprehensively assess how many of these cases had other risk factors, such as pregnancy, obesity, smoking, and alcohol misuse. Because of large differences between countries, the role of risk factors such as obesity and pregnancy need further study—although there is sufficient evidence to support vaccination and early intervention for pregnant women. Overall, the findings of this study reinforce the need to identify and target high-risk groups for interventions such as immunization, early medical advice, and use of antiviral medications.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001053.
WHO provides a Global Alert and Response (GAR) with updates on a number of influenza-related topics
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides information on risk factors and H1N1
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001053
PMCID: PMC3130021  PMID: 21750667
12.  Circulating retinol binding protein 4 in critically ill patients before specific treatment: prognostic impact and correlation with organ function, metabolism and inflammation 
Critical Care  2010;14(5):R179.
Introduction
Hyperglycemia and insulin resistance are well-known features of critical illness and impact the mortality rate, especially in sepsis. Retinol binding protein 4 (RBP4) promotes insulin resistance in mice and is systemically elevated in patients with obesity and type 2 diabetes. We investigated the potential role of RBP4 in critically ill patients.
Methods
We conducted a prospective single-center study of serum RBP4 concentrations in critically ill patients. One hundred twenty-three patients (85 with sepsis, 38 without sepsis) were studied at admission to a medical intensive care unit (ICU) before initiation of specific intensive care treatment measures and compared to 42 healthy nondiabetic controls. Clinical data, various laboratory parameters and metabolic and endocrine functions were assessed. Patients were followed for approximately 3 years.
Results
Serum RBP4 was significantly reduced in ICU patients, independently of sepsis, as compared to healthy controls (P < 0.001). Patients with liver cirrhosis as the primary underlying diagnosis for ICU admission had significantly lower RBP4 levels as compared with other ICU patients. Accordingly, in all ICU patients, serum RBP4 closely correlated with liver function and increased with renal failure. No significant differences of serum RBP4 concentrations in septic patients with pulmonary or other origins of sepsis or nonseptic patients could be revealed. Acute phase proteins were inversely correlated with RBP4 in sepsis patients. RBP4 did not differ between patients with or without obesity or preexisting diabetes. However, serum RBP4 levels correlated with endogenous insulin secretion (C-peptide) and insulin resistance (HOMA index). Low serum RBP4 upon admission was an adverse predictor of short-term survival in the ICU, but was not associated with overall survival during long-term follow-up.
Conclusions
Serum RBP4 concentrations are significantly reduced in critically ill patients. The strong associations with hepatic and renal function, insulin resistance and acute mortality collectively suggest a role of RBP4 in the pathogenesis of critical illness, possibly as a negative acute phase reactant, and allow a proposition as a potential novel biomarker for ICU patients.
doi:10.1186/cc9285
PMCID: PMC3219283  PMID: 20932285
13.  Regulation and prognostic relevance of serum ghrelin concentrations in critical illness and sepsis 
Critical Care  2010;14(3):R94.
Introduction
Ghrelin has been recently identified as a mediator of various beneficial effects in animal models of sepsis. At present, no data are available concerning specific properties of ghrelin in critically ill patients from large cohorts. In order to identify possible pathogenic functions of ghrelin in critically ill patients and human sepsis from a clinical point of view, we aimed at analyzing ghrelin serum concentrations in a large cohort of well characterized patients with critical illness.
Methods
A total of 170 critically ill patients (122 with sepsis, 48 without sepsis) were studied prospectively on admission to the Medical intensive care unit (ICU) and compared to 60 healthy controls. Careful assessment of clinical data, various laboratory parameters, metabolic and endocrine functions as well as investigational inflammatory cytokine profiles have been performed, and patients were followed for approximately three years.
Results
Ghrelin serum concentrations are elevated in critically ill patients as compared to healthy controls, but do not differ between sepsis and non-sepsis patients. The underlying etiologies of critical diseases are not associated with ghrelin serum levels. Neither pre-existing diabetes mellitus nor body mass index is correlated to serum ghrelin concentrations. Ghrelin is not correlated to markers of inflammation or hepatic function in critically ill patients. In the subgroup of non-sepsis patients, ghrelin correlates inversely with renal function and markers of carbohydrate metabolism. High ghrelin levels are an indicator for a favourable prognosis concerning mortality at the ICU in sepsis patients. Furthermore, ghrelin is significantly associated with the necessity of ventilation in critically ill patients.
Conclusions
Ghrelin serum concentrations are elevated in all circumstances of critical disease, including sepsis and non-sepsis patients. High ghrelin levels are a positive predictor of ICU-survival in sepsis patients, matching previous results from animal models. Future experimental and clinical studies are needed to evaluate ghrelin as a novel prognostic tool in ICU patients and its potential therapeutic use in sepsis.
doi:10.1186/cc9029
PMCID: PMC2911731  PMID: 20500817
14.  Respiratory effects of dexmedetomidine in the surgical patient requiring intensive care 
Critical Care  2000;4(5):302-308.
The respiratory effects of dexmedetomidine were retrospectively examined in 33 postsurgical patients involved in a randomised, placebo-controlled trial after extubation in the intensive care unit (ICU). Morphine requirements were reduced by over 50% in patients receiving dexmedetomidine. There were no differences in respiratory rates, oxygen saturations, arterial pH and arterial partial carbon dioxide tension (PaCO2) between the groups. Interestingly the arterial partial oxygen tension (PaO2) : fractional inspired oxygen (FIO2) ratios were statistically significantly higher in the dexmedetomidine group. Dexmedetomidine provides important postsurgical analgesia and appears to have no clinically important adverse effects on respiration in the surgical patient who requires intensive care.
Introduction:
The α2-agonist dexmedetomidine is a new class of sedative drug that is being investigated for use in ICU settings. It is an effective agent for the management of sedation and analgesia after cardiac, general, orthopaedic, head and neck, oncological and vascular surgery in the ICU [1]. Cardiovascular stability was demonstrated, with significant reductions in rate-pressure product during sedation and over the extubation period.
Dexmedetomidine possesses several properties that may additionally benefit those critically ill patients who require sedation. In spontaneously breathing volunteers, intravenous dexmedetomidine caused marked sedation with only mild reductions in resting ventilation at higher doses [2]. Dexmedetomidine reduces the haemodynamic response to intubation and extubation [3,4,5] and attenuates the stress response to surgery [6], as a result of the α2-mediated reduction in sympathetic tone. Therefore, it should be possible to continue sedation with dexmedetomidine over the stressful extubation period without concerns over respiratory depression, while ensuring that haemodynamic stability is preserved.
The present study is a retrospective analysis of the respiratory response to dexmedetomidine in 33 postsurgical patients (who were involved in a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial [1]) after extubation in the ICU.
Methods:
Patients who participated in the present study were admitted after surgery to our general or cardiothoracic ICUs, and were expected to receive at least 6 h of postsurgical sedation and artificial ventilation.
On arrival in the ICU after surgery, patients were randomized to receive either dexmedetomidine or placebo (normal saline) with rescue sedation and analgesia being provided, only if clinically needed, with midazolam and morphine boluses, respectively. Sedation was titrated to maintain a Ramsay Sedation Score [7] of 3 or greater while the patients were intubated, and infusions of study drug were continued for a maximum of 6 h after extubation to achieve a Ramsay Sedation Score of 2 or greater.
The patients were intubated and ventilated with oxygen-enriched air to attain acceptable arterial blood gases, and extubation occurred when clinically indicated. All patients received supplemental oxygen after extubation, which was delivered by a fixed performance device. Assessment of pain was by direct communication with the patient.
Results are expressed as mean ± standard deviation unless otherwise stated. Patient characteristics, operative details and morphine usage were analyzed using the Mann-Whitney U-test. Statistical differences for respiratory measurements between the two groups were determined using analysis of variance for repeated measures, with the Bonferroni test for post hoc comparisons.
Results:
Of the 40 patients who participated in the study, seven patients could not be included in the analysis of respiratory function because they did not receive a study drug infusion after extubation. Consequently, data from 33 patients are used in the analysis of respiratory function; 16 received dexmedetomidine and 17 placebo. Inadequate arterial blood gas analysis was available in five patients (two from the dexmedetomidine group, and three from the placebo group). There were no significant differences in patient characteristics and operative details between the groups.
Requirements for morphine were reduced by more than 50% in patients receiving dexmedetomidine when compared with placebo after extubation (0.003 ± 0.004 vs 0.008 ± 0.006 mg/kg per h; P= 0.040).
There were no statistically significant differences between placebo and dexmedetomidine for oxygen saturations measured by pulse oximetry (P= 0.26), respiratory rate (P= 0.16; Fig. 1), arterial pH (P= 0.77) and PaCO2 (P= 0.75; Fig. 2) for the 6 h after extubation.
The dexmedetomidine group showed significantly higher PaO2: FIO2 ratios throughout the 6-h intubation (P= 0.036) and extubation (P= 0.037) periods (Fig. 3). There were no adverse respiratory events seen in either the dexmedetomidine or placebo group.
Respiratory rate for the 6-h periods before and after extubation. (Filled circle) Dexmedetomidine; (Empty circle) placebo. Values are expressed as mean ± standard deviation.
PaCO2 (PCO2) for the 6-h periods before and after extubation, and baseline values (B) on admission to ICU immediately after surgery. (Filled circle) Dexmedetomidine; (Empty circle) placebo. Values are expressed as mean ± standard deviation.
PaO2 : FIO2 ratio for the 6-h periods before and after extubation, and baseline values (B) on admission to ICU immediately after surgery. (Filled circle) Dexmedetomidine; (Empty circle) placebo. Values are expressed as mean ± standard deviation.
Discussion:
Lack of respiratory depression in patients sedated with α2-adrenoceptor agonists was first reported by Maxwell [8] in a study investigating the respiratory effects of clonidine. However, more recent data suggests that clonidine may cause mild respiratory depression in humans [9], and α2-adrenoceptor agonists are well known to produce profound intraoperative hypoxaemia in sheep [10,11]. The effects of dexmedetomidine on other ventilation parameters also appear to be species specific [12].
Belleville et al [2] investigated the ventilatory effects of a 2-min intravenous infusion of dexmedetomidine on human volunteers. According to those investigators, minute ventilation and arterial PaCO2 were mildly decreased and increased, respectively. There was a rightward shift and depression of the hypercapnic response with infusions of 1.0 and 2.0 μg/kg.
Previous studies that investigated the respiratory effects of dexmedetomidine have only been performed in healthy human volunteers, who have received either single intramuscular injections or short (= 10 min) intravenous infusions of dexmedetomidine. It is therefore reassuring that no deleterious clinical effects on respiration and gas exchange were seen in the patients we studied, who were receiving long-term infusions. However, there are important limitations to the present results. No dose/response curve for dexmedetomidine can be formulated from the data, and further investigation is probably ethically difficult to achieve in the spontaneously ventilating intensive care patient. We also have no data on the ventilatory responses to hypercapnia and hypoxia, which would also be difficult to examine practically and ethically. The placebo group received more than twice as much morphine as patients receiving dexmedetomidine infusions after extubation, but there were no differences in respiratory rate or PaCO2 between the groups. We can not therefore determine from this study whether dexmedetomidine has any benefits over morphine from a respiratory perspective.
There were no differences in oxygen saturations between the groups because the administered oxygen concentration was adjusted to maintain satisfactory gas exchange. Interestingly, however, there were statistically significant higher PaO2 : FIO2 ratios in the dexmedetomidine group. This ratio allows for the variation in administered oxygen to patients during the study period, and gives some clinical indication of alveolar gas exchange. However, this variable was not a primary outcome variable for the present study, and may represent a type 1 error, although post hoc analysis reveals that the data have 80% power to detect a significant difference (α value 0.05). Further studies are obviously required.
Sedation continued over the extubation period, has been shown to reduce haemodynamic disturbances and myocardial ischaemia [13]. We have previously shown [1] that dexmedetomidine provides cardiovascular stability, with a reduction in rate-pressure product over the extubation period. A sedative agent that has analgesic properties, minimal effects on respiration and offers ischaemia protection would have enormous potential in the ICU. Dexmedetomidine may fulfill all of these roles, but at present we can only conclude that dexmedetomidine has no deleterious clinical effects on respiration when used in doses that are sufficient to provide adequate sedation and effective analgesia in the surgical population requiring intensive care.
PMCID: PMC29047  PMID: 11056756
α2-Adrenoceptor agonist; analgesia; dexmedetomidine; intensive care; postoperative; respiratory; sedation
15.  Risk factors for post-ICU red blood cell transfusion: a prospective study 
Critical Care  2006;10(5):R129.
Introduction
Factors predictive of the need for red blood cell (RBC) transfusion in the intensive care unit (ICU) have been identified, but risk factors for transfusion after ICU discharge are unknown. This study aims identifies risk factors for RBC transfusion after discharge from the ICU.
Methods
A prospective, monocentric observational study was conducted over a 6-month period in a 24-bed medical ICU in a French university hospital. Between June and December 2003, 550 critically ill patients were consecutively enrolled in the study.
Results
A total of 428 patients survived after treatment in the ICU; 47 (11% of the survivors, 8.5% of the whole population) required RBC transfusion within 7 days after ICU discharge. Admission for sepsis (odds ratio [OR] 341.60, 95% confidence interval [CI] 20.35–5734.51), presence of an underlying malignancy (OR 32.6, 95%CI 3.8–280.1), female sex (OR 5.4, 95% CI 1.2–24.9), Logistic Organ Dysfunction score at ICU discharge (OR 1.45, 95% CI 1.1–1.9) and age (OR 1.06, 95% CI 1.02–1.12) were independently associated with RBC transfusion after ICU stay. Haemoglobin level at discharge predicted the need for delayed RBC transfusion. Use of vasopressors (OR 0.01, 95%CI 0.001–0.17) and haemoglobin level at discharge from the ICU (OR 0.02, 95% CI 0.007–0.09; P < 0.001) were strong independent predictors of transfusion of RBC 1 week after ICU discharge.
Conclusion
Sepsis, underlying conditions, unresolved organ failures and haemoglobin level at discharge were related to an increased risk for RBC transfusion after ICU stay. We suggest that strategies to prevent transfusion should focus on homogeneous subgroups of patients and take into account post-ICU needs for RBC transfusion.
doi:10.1186/cc5041
PMCID: PMC1751083  PMID: 16965637
16.  Triage of Patients Consulted for ICU Admission During Times of ICU-Bed Shortage 
Background
The demand for specialized medical services such as critical care often exceeds availability, thus rationing of intensive care unit (ICU) beds commonly leads to difficult triage decisions. Many factors can play a role in the decision to admit a patient to the ICU, including severity of illness and the need for specific treatments limited to these units. Although triage decisions would be based solely on patient and institutional level factors, it is likely that intensivists make different decisions when there are fewer ICU beds available. The objective of this study is to evaluate the characteristics of patients referred for ICU admission during times of limited beds availability.
Methods
A single center, prospective, observational study was conducted among consecutive patients in whom an evaluation for ICU admission was requested during times of ICU overcrowding, which comprised the months of April and May 2014.
Results
A total of 95 patients were evaluated for possible ICU admission during the study period. Their mean APACHE-II score was 16.8 (median 16, range 3 - 36). Sixty-four patients (67.4%) were accepted to ICU, 18 patients (18.9%) were triaged to SDU, and 13 patients (13.7%) were admitted to hospital wards. ICU had no beds available 24 times (39.3%) during the study period, and in 39 opportunities (63.9%) only one bed was available. Twenty-four patients (25.3%) were evaluated when there were no available beds, and eight of those patients (33%) were admitted to ICU. A total of 17 patients (17.9%) died in the hospital, and 15 (23.4%) expired in ICU.
Conclusion
ICU beds are a scarce resource for which demand periodically exceeds supply, raising concerns about mechanisms for resource allocation during times of limited beds availability. At our institution, triage decisions were not related to the number of available beds in ICU, age, or gender. A linear correlation was observed between severity of illness, expressed by APACHE-II scores, and the likelihood of being admitted to ICU. Alternative locations outside the ICU in which care for critically ill patients could be delivered should be considered during times of extreme ICU-bed shortage.
doi:10.14740/jocmr1939w
PMCID: PMC4169089  PMID: 25247021
Triage; Intensive care unit; Step-down unit; Emergency department; Acute physiology and chronic health evaluation; ICU beds
17.  Performance of prognostic models in critically ill cancer patients – a review 
Critical Care  2005;9(4):R458-R463.
Introduction
Prognostic models, such as the Acute Physiology and Chronic Health Evaluation (APACHE) II or III, the Simplified Acute Physiology Score (SAPS) II, and the Mortality Probability Models (MPM) II were developed to quantify the severity of illness and the likelihood of hospital survival for a general intensive care unit (ICU) population. Little is known about the performance of these models in specific populations, such as patients with cancer. Recently, specific prognostic models have been developed to predict mortality for cancer patients who are admitted to the ICU. The present analysis reviews the performance of general prognostic models and specific models for cancer patients to predict in-hospital mortality after ICU admission.
Methods
Studies were identified by searching the Medline databases from 1994 to 2004. We included studies evaluating the performance of mortality prediction models in critically ill cancer patients.
Results
Ten studies were identified that evaluated prognostic models in cancer patients. Discrimination between survivors and non-survivors was fair to good, but calibration was insufficient in most studies. General prognostic models uniformly underestimate the likelihood of hospital mortality in oncological patients. Two versions of a specific oncological scoring systems (Intensive Care Mortality Model (ICMM)) were evaluated in five studies and showed better discrimination and calibration than the general prognostic models.
Conclusion
General prognostic models generally underestimate the risk of mortality in critically ill cancer patients. Both general prognostic models and specific oncology models may reliably identify subgroups of patients with a very high risk of mortality.
doi:10.1186/cc3765
PMCID: PMC1269472  PMID: 16137361
18.  Circulating soluble urokinase plasminogen activator receptor is stably elevated during the first week of treatment in the intensive care unit and predicts mortality in critically ill patients 
Critical Care  2011;15(1):R63.
Introduction
suPAR is the soluble form of the urokinase plasminogen activator receptor (uPAR), which is expressed in various immunologically active cells. High suPAR serum concentrations are suggested to reflect the activation of the immune system in circumstances of inflammation and infection, and have been associated with increased mortality in different populations of non-intensive care patients. In this study we sequentially analyzed suPAR serum concentrations within the first week of intensive care in a large cohort of well characterized intensive care unit (ICU) patients, in order to investigate potential regulatory mechanisms and evaluate the prognostic significance in critically ill patients.
Methods
A total of 273 patients (197 with sepsis, 76 without sepsis) were studied prospectively upon admission to the medical intensive care unit (ICU), on Day 3 and Day 7, and compared to 43 healthy controls. Clinical data, various laboratory parameters as well as investigational inflammatory cytokine profiles were assessed. Patients were followed for approximately one year.
Results
Upon admission to the ICU suPAR serum concentrations were elevated in critically ill patients as compared with healthy controls. In sepsis patients suPAR levels were higher than in non-sepsis patients (with or without systemic inflammatory response syndrome (SIRS)). During the first week after admission to the ICU serum suPAR concentrations remained stably elevated. suPAR serum concentrations measured upon admission were closely and independently correlated to various laboratory parameters, specifically biomarkers of inflammation (tumor necrosis factor (TNF), C-reactive protein (CRP)), hepatic and renal dysfunction. High suPAR levels at admission and at Day 3 were a strong independent predictor for both ICU and long-term mortality in critically ill patients.
Conclusions
In sepsis and non-sepsis patients suPAR serum concentrations are increased upon admission to the ICU, likely reflecting the activation state of the immune system, and remain stably elevated in the initial course of treatment. Low suPAR levels are a positive predictor of ICU- and overall survival in critically ill patients, including sepsis and non-sepsis patients. Aside from its value as a promising new prognostic biomarker, both experimental and clinical studies are required in order to understand the specific effects and regulatory mechanisms of suPAR in SIRS and sepsis, and may reveal new therapeutic options.
doi:10.1186/cc10037
PMCID: PMC3221996  PMID: 21324198
19.  Light and the outcome of the critically ill: an observational cohort study 
Critical Care  2012;16(4):R132.
Introduction
Light before and during acute illness has been associated with both benefit and harm in animal models and small human studies. Our objective was to determine the associations of light duration (photoperiod) and intensity (insolation) before and during critical illness with hospital mortality in ICU patients. Based on the 'winter immunoenhancement' theory, we tested the hypothesis that a shorter photoperiod before critical illness is associated with improved survival.
Methods
We analyzed data from 11,439 patients admitted to 8 ICUs at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center between June 30, 1999 and July 31, 2004. Daily photoperiod and insolation prior to and after ICU admission were estimated for each patient by using data provided by the United States Naval Observatory and National Aeronautics and Space Administration and direct measurement of light gradient from outside to bedside for each ICU room. Our primary outcome was hospital mortality. The association between light and risk of death was analyzed using multivariate analyses, adjusting for potential confounders, including severity of illness, case mix, and ICU type.
Results
The cohort had an average APACHE III of 52.9 and a hospital mortality of 10.7%. In total, 128 ICU beds were analyzed; 108 (84%) had windows. Pre-illness photoperiod ranged from 259 to 421 hours in the prior month. A shorter photoperiod was associated with a reduced risk of death: for each 1-hour decrease, the adjusted OR was 0.997 (0.994 to 0.999, p = 0.03). In the ICU, there was near complete (99.6%) degradation of natural light from outside to the ICU bed. Thus, light exposure once in the ICU approached zero; the 24-hour insolation was 0.005 ± 0.003 kWh/m2 with little diurnal variation. There was no association between ICU photoperiod or insolation and mortality.
Conclusions
Consistent with the winter immunoenhancement theory, a shorter photoperiod in the month before critical illness is associated with a reduced risk of death. Once in the ICU, patients are exposed to near negligible natural light despite the presence of windows. Further studies are warranted to determine the underlying mechanisms and whether manipulating light exposure, before or during ICU admission, can enhance survival.
doi:10.1186/cc11437
PMCID: PMC3580717  PMID: 22827924
20.  Using Simulation to Isolate Physician Variation in ICU Admission Decision Making for Critically Ill Elders with End-Stage Cancer: A Pilot Feasibility Study 
Critical care medicine  2008;36(12):3156-3163.
Objective
To determine the feasibility of high-fidelity simulation for studying variation in ICU admission decision making for critically ill elders with end-stage cancer.
Design
Mixed qualitative and quantitative analysis of physician subjects participating in a simulation scenario using a hospital set, actors, medical chart, and vital signs tracings. The simulation depicted a 78 year-old man with metastatic gastric cancer, life-threatening hypoxia most likely attributable to cancer progression, and stable preferences to avoid ICU admission and intubation. Two independent raters assesed the simulations and subjects completed a post-simulation web-based survey and debriefing interview.
Setting
Peter M. Winter Institute for Simulation Education and Research at the University of Pittsburgh.
Subjects
27 hospital-based attending physicians, including 6 emergency physicians, 13 hospitalists, and 8 intensivists.
Measurements and Main Results
Outcomes included qualitative report of clinical verisimilitude during the debriefing interview, survey-reported diagnosis and prognosis, and observed treatment decisions. Independent variables included physician demographics, risk attitude, and reactions to uncertainty. All (100%) reported that the case and simulation were highly realistic, and their diagnostic and prognostic assessments were consistent with our intent. Eight (29.6%) physicians admitted the patient to the ICU. Among the 8 physicians who admitted the patient to the ICU, 3 (37%) initiated palliation, 2 (25%) documented the patient’s code status (DNI/DNR), and 1 intubated the patient. Among the 19 physicians not admitting to the ICU, 13 (68%) initiated palliation and 5 (42%) documented code status. Intensivists and emergency physicians (P=0.048) were more likely to admit the patient to the ICU. Years since medical school graduation were inversely associated with the initiation of palliative care (P=0.043).
Conclusions
Simulation can reproduce the decision context of ICU triage for a critically ill patient with terminal illness. When faced with an identical patient, hospital-based physicians from the same institution vary significantly in their treatment decisions.
doi:10.1097/CCM.0b013e31818f40d2
PMCID: PMC2853191  PMID: 18936694
terminal care; intensive care; physician decision making; cancer; simulation
21.  Trends in Severity of Illness on ICU Admission and Mortality among the Elderly 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(4):e93234.
Background
There is an increase in admission rate for elderly patients to the ICU. Mortality rates are lower when more liberal ICU admission threshold are compared to more restrictive threshold. We sought to describe the temporal trends in elderly admissions and outcomes in a tertiary hospital before and after the addition of an 8-bed medical ICU.
Methods
We conducted a retrospective analysis of a comprehensive longitudinal ICU database, from a large tertiary medical center, examining trends in patients’ characteristics, severity of illness, intensity of care and mortality rates over the years 2001–2008. The study population consisted of elderly patients and the primary endpoints were 28 day and one year mortality from ICU admission.
Results
Between the years 2001 and 2008, 7,265 elderly patients had 8,916 admissions to ICU. The rate of admission to the ICU increased by 5.6% per year. After an eight bed MICU was added, the severity of disease on ICU admission dropped significantly and crude mortality rates decreased thereafter. Adjusting for severity of disease on presentation, there was a decreased mortality at 28- days but no improvement in one- year survival rates for elderly patient admitted to the ICU over the years of observation. Hospital mortality rates have been unchanged from 2001 through 2008.
Conclusion
In a high capacity ICU bed hospital, there was a temporal decrease in severity of disease on ICU admission, more so after the addition of additional medical ICU beds. While crude mortality rates decreased over the study period, adjusted one-year survival in ICU survivors did not change with the addition of ICU beds. These findings suggest that outcome in critically ill elderly patients may not be influenced by ICU admission. Adding additional ICU beds to deal with the increasing age of the population may therefore not be effective.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0093234
PMCID: PMC3974713  PMID: 24699251
22.  Quality of life before intensive care unit admission is a predictor of survival 
Critical Care  2007;11(4):R78.
Introduction
Predicting whether a critically ill patient will survive intensive care treatment remains difficult. The advantages of a validated strategy to identify those patients who will not benefit from intensive care unit (ICU) treatment are evident. Providing critical care treatment to patients who will ultimately die in the ICU is accompanied by an enormous emotional and physical burden for both patients and their relatives. The purpose of the present study was to examine whether health-related quality of life (HRQOL) before admission to the ICU can be used as a predictor of mortality.
Methods
We conducted a prospective cohort study in a university-affiliated teaching hospital. Patients admitted to the ICU for longer than 48 hours were included. Close relatives completed the Short-form 36 (SF-36) within the first 48 hours of admission to assess pre-admission HRQOL of the patient. Mortality was evaluated from ICU admittance until 6 months after ICU discharge. Logistic regression and receiver operating characteristic analyses were used to assess the predictive value for mortality using five models: the first question of the SF-36 on general health (model A); HRQOL measured using the physical component score (PCS) and mental component score (MCS) of the SF-36 (model B); the Acute Physiology and Chronic Health Evaluation (APACHE) II score (an accepted mortality prediction model in ICU patients; model C); general health and APACHE II score (model D); and PCS, MCS and APACHE II score (model E). Classification tables were used to assess the sensitivity, specificity, positive and negative predictive values, and likelihood ratios.
Results
A total of 451 patients were included within 48 hours of admission to the ICU. At 6 months of follow up, 159 patients had died and 40 patients were lost to follow up. When the general health item was used as an estimate of HRQOL, area under the curve for model A (0.719) was comparable to that of model C (0.721) and slightly better than that of model D (0.760). When PCS and MCS were used, the area under the curve for model B (0.736) was comparable to that of model C (0.721) and slightly better than that of model E (0.768). When using the general health item, the sensitivity and specificity in model D (sensitivity 0.52 and specificity 0.81) were similar to those in model A (0.45 and 0.80). Similar results were found when using the MCS and PCS.
Conclusion
This study shows that the pre-admission HRQOL measured with either the one-item general health question or the complete SF-36 is as good at predicting survival/mortality in ICU patients as the APACHE II score. The value of these measures in clinical practice is limited, although it seems sensible to incorporate assessment of HRQOL into the many variables considered when deciding whether a patient should be admitted to the ICU.
doi:10.1186/cc5970
PMCID: PMC2206516  PMID: 17629906
23.  Long-term outcome of delirium during intensive care unit stay in survivors of critical illness: a prospective cohort study 
Critical Care  2014;18(3):R125.
Introduction
Delirium is associated with impaired outcome, but it is unclear whether this relationship is limited to in-hospital outcomes and whether this relationship is independent of the severity of underlying conditions. The aim of this study was to investigate the association between delirium in the intensive care unit (ICU) and long-term mortality, self-reported health-related quality of life (HRQoL), and self-reported problems with cognitive functioning in survivors of critical illness, taking severity of illness at baseline and throughout ICU stay into account.
Methods
A prospective cohort study was conducted. We included patients who survived an ICU stay of at least a day; exclusions were neurocritical care patients and patients who sustained deep sedation during the entire ICU stay. Delirium was assessed twice daily with the Confusion Assessment Method for the ICU (CAM-ICU) and additionally, patients who received haloperidol were considered delirious. Twelve months after ICU admission, data on mortality were obtained and HRQoL and cognitive functioning were measured with the European Quality of Life – Six dimensions self-classifier (EQ-6D). Regression analyses were used to assess the associations between delirium and the outcome measures adjusted for gender, type of admission, the Acute Physiology And Chronic Health Evaluation IV (APACHE IV) score, and the cumulative Sequential Organ Failure Assessment (SOFA) score throughout ICU stay.
Results
Of 1101 survivors of critical illness, 412 persons (37%) had been delirious during ICU stay, and 198 (18%) died within twelve months. When correcting for confounders, no significant association between delirium and long-term mortality was found (hazard ratio: 1.26; 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.93 to 1.71). In multivariable analysis, delirium was not associated with HRQoL either (regression coefficient: -0.04; 95% CI -0.10 to 0.01). Yet, delirium remained associated with mild and severe problems with cognitive functioning in multivariable analysis (odds ratios: 2.41; 95% CI 1.57 to 3.69 and 3.10; 95% CI 1.10 to 8.74, respectively).
Conclusions
In this group of survivors of critical illness, delirium during ICU stay was not associated with long-term mortality or HRQoL after adjusting for confounding, including severity of illness throughout ICU stay. In contrast, delirium appears to be an independent risk factor for long-term self-reported problems with cognitive functioning.
doi:10.1186/cc13929
PMCID: PMC4095683  PMID: 24942154
24.  Small increases in serum creatinine are associated with prolonged ICU stay and increased hospital mortality in critically ill patients with cancer 
Purpose
Declining kidney function has been associated with adverse hospital outcome in cancer patients. ICU literature suggests that small changes in serum creatinine are associated with poor outcome. We hypothesized that reductions in renal function previously considered trivial would predict a poor outcome in critically ill patients with malignant disease. We evaluated the effects on hospital mortality and ICU length of stay of small changes in creatinine following admission to the intensive care unit.
Methods
We conducted a retrospective cohort study utilizing clinical, laboratory and pharmacy data collected from 3,795 patients admitted to the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center's Intensive Care Unit. We conducted univariate and multivariate regression analysis to determine those factors associated with adverse ICU and hospital outcome.
Results
Increases in creatinine as small as 10% (0.2 mg/dl) were associated with prolonged ICU stay (5 days vs 6.6 days, p<0.001) and increased mortality (14.6% vs 25.5%, p<0.0001). Patients with a 25% rise in creatinine during the first 72 h of ICU admission were twice as likely to die in the hospital (14.3% vs 30.1%, p<0.001). RIFLE criteria were accurate predictors of outcome, though they missed much of the risk of even smaller increases in creatinine.
Conclusions
Even small rises in serum creatinine following admission to the ICU are associated with increased morbidity and mortality in oncologic patients. The poor outcome in those with rising creatinine could not be explained by severity of illness or other risk factors. These small changes in creatinine may not be trivial, and should be regarded as evidence of a decline in an individual patient's condition.
doi:10.1007/s00520-010-0978-7
PMCID: PMC3037438  PMID: 20711842
Acute kidney injury; Cancer; Critical care; Creatinine; Outcome
25.  Blood Lactate/ATP Ratio, as an Alarm Index and Real-Time Biomarker in Critical Illness 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(4):e60561.
Objective
The acute physiology, age and chronic health evaluation (APACHE) II score and other related scores have been used for evaluation of illness severity in the intensive care unit (ICU), but there is still a need for real-time and sensitive prognostic biomarkers. Recently, alarmins from damaged tissues have been reported as alarm-signaling molecules. Although ATP is a member of the alarmins and its depletion in tissues closely correlates with multiple-organ failure, blood ATP level has not been evaluated in critical illness. To identify real-time prognostic biomarker of critical illness, we measured blood ATP levels and the lactate/ATP ratio (ATP-lactate energy risk score, A-LES) in critically ill patients.
Methods and Results
Blood samples were collected from 42 consecutive critically ill ICU patients and 155 healthy subjects. The prognostic values of blood ATP levels and A-LES were compared with APACHE II score. The mean ATP level (SD) in healthy subjects was 0.62 (0.19) mM with no significant age or gender differences. The median ATP level in severely ill patients at ICU admission was significantly low at 0.31 mM (interquartile range 0.25 to 0.44) than the level in moderately ill patient at 0.56 mM (0.38 to 0.70) (P<0.01). Assessment with ATP was further corrected by lactate and expressed as A-LES. The median A-LES was 2.7 (2.1 to 3.3) in patients with satisfactory outcome at discharge but was significantly higher in non-survivors at 38.9 (21.0 to 67.9) (P<0.01). Receiver operating characteristic analysis indicated that measurement of blood ATP and A-LES at ICU admission are as useful as APACHE II score for prediction of mortality.
Conclusion
Blood ATP levels and A-LES are sensitive prognostic biomarkers of mortality at ICU admission. In addition, A-LES provided further real-time evaluation score of illness severity during ICU stay particularly for critically ill patients with APACHE II scores of ≥20.0.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0060561
PMCID: PMC3618266  PMID: 23577122

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