Vitamin D deficiency is the most common nutritional deficiency in the United States. It is seldom measured or recognized, and rarely is treated, particularly in critically ill patients. The purpose of this study was to investigate the prevalence and impact of vitamin D deficiency in surgical intensive care unit patients. We hypothesized that severe vitamin D deficiency increases the length of stay, mortality rate, and cost in critically ill patients admitted to surgical intensive care units.
We performed a prospective observational study of vitamin D status on 258 consecutive patients admitted to the Surgical Intensive Care Unit at Grady Memorial Hospital between August 2009 and January 2010. Vitamin D levels (25 [OH]2 vitamin-D3) were measured by high-pressure liquid chromatography and tandem mass spectrometry. Vitamin D deficiency was defined as follows: severe deficiency was categorized as less than 13 ng/mL; moderate deficiency was categorized as 14 to 26 ng/mL; mild deficiency was categorized as 27 to 39 ng/mL; and normal levels were categorized as greater than 40 ng/mL.
Of the 258 patients evaluated, 70.2% (181) were men, and 29.8% (77) were women; 57.6% (148) were African American and 32.4% (109) were Caucasian. A total of 138 (53.5%) patients had severe vitamin D deficiency, 96 (37.2%) had moderate deficiency, 18 (7.0%) had mild deficiency, and 3 (1.2%) of the patients had normal vitamin D levels. The mean length of stay in the Surgical Intensive Care Unit for the severe vitamin D–deficient group was 13.33 ± 19.5 days versus 7.29 ± 15.3 days and 5.17 ± 6.5 days for the moderate and mild vitamin D-deficient groups, respectively, which was clinically significant (P = .002). The mean treatment cost during the patient stay in the surgical intensive care unit was $51,413.33 ± $75,123.00 for the severe vitamin D–deficient group, $28,123.65 ± $59,752.00 for the moderate group, and $20,414.11 ± $25,714.30 for the mild vitamin D–deficient group, which also was clinically significant (P = .027). More importantly, the mortality rate for the severe vitamin D–deficient group was 17 (12.3%) versus 11 (11.5%) in the moderate group (P = .125). Because no deaths occurred in the mildly or normal vitamin D–deficient groups, we compared the mortality rate between severe/moderate and mild/normal vitamin D groups (P = .047).
In univariate analysis, severe and moderate vitamin D deficiency was related inversely to the length of stay in the surgical intensive care unit (r = .194; P = .001), related inversely to surgical intensive care unit treatment cost (r = .194; P = .001) and mortality (r = .125; P = .023), compared with the mild vitamin D–deficient group, after adjusting for age, sex, race, and comorbidities (myocardial infarctions, acute renal failure, and pneumonia); the length of stay, surgical intensive care unit cost, and mortality remained significantly associated with vitamin D deficiency.