Characteristics and outcome of long-stay patients in a paediatric intensive care unit in Cape Town, South Africa

  • T L Nupen
  • A C Argent
  • B M Morrow

Abstract

Background. Paediatric intensive care is a costly, specialised and limited resource in low- and middle-income countries. The implications of extended paediatric intensive care unit (PICU) stay in South Africa (SA) are not known.
Objectives. To describe the characteristics, outcomes and resource consumption of long-stay patients (LSPs) and to identify predictive factors for long PICU stay.
Methods. A retrospective review of routinely collected data on all children admitted to an SA PICU over one calendar year. Long PICU stay was defined statistically as >19 days. Long- and short-stay patient (SSP) groups were compared, and variables significantly associated with long stay on univariate analysis were entered into a stepwise multiple regression model.
Results. Over the study period, 1 126 children (median age 8 months, 60.9% male) were admitted to the PICU, occupying 5 936 bed-days; 54 LSPs (4.8%) utilised 1 807 (30.4%) bed-days. Mortality and the standardised mortality ratio (actual/mean predicted mortality) in LSPs and SSPs were 29.6% v. 12% (p=0.002) and 2.4 v. 0.7 (p=0.002), respectively. Median duration of stay for LSPs and SSPs was 29.5 days and 2 days, respectively (p<0.0001). LSPs were younger than SSPs (median 4 months (interquartile range 2 - 17) v. 9 months (2 - 34); p=0.03), and fewer were male (48% v. 61.6%, p=0.049). On multivariate analysis, only female gender was independently associated with long PICU stay.
Conclusions. LSPs represent a small proportion of PICU admissions, yet have a higher mortality rate than SSPs and consume disproportionate PICU resources. No predictive model could be established for early recognition of potential LSPs to plan PICU bed allocation effectively. 

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eISSN: 0256-95749
print ISSN: 2078-5135