Background: Intensive care for patients with human immunodeficiency virus is common, costly, and associated with high morbidity. Accurate and up-to-date outcome and prognostic data are needed to effectively counsel patients and to make difficult decisions regarding admission to the intensive care unit.
Methods: We reviewed the medical charts of 394 adults infected with human immunodeficiency virus who received intensive care at San Francisco General Hospital, San Francisco, Calif, from 1992 to 1995, and we performed a multivariate analysis to learn which factors were predictive of poor outcomes.
Results: Respiratory failure (47%), sepsis (12%), and neurologic disease (11%) were the most common indications for admission to the intensive care unit. Overall, 63% of the patients survived hospitalization; survival rates were 27%, 18%, 13%, and 11% at 1, 2, 3, and 4 years, respectively. Independent predictors of hospital mortality were low serum albumin level, Acute Physiology Score, mechanical ventilation, and a diagnosis of Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia during admission to the intensive care unit. Low CD4+ cell count, low serum albumin level, and mechanical ventilation predicted poor long-term survival. Of the 121 patients who had a CD4+ cell count less than 50 cells/microL (0.05x10(9)/L) and a serum albumin level less than 25 g/L and required mechanical ventilation, 7% survived for 2.5 years or more after hospital discharge.
Conclusions: In this series, which is the largest to date of patients admitted to the intensive care unit with human immunodeficiency virus infection, we found that long-term survival rates were low. However, even among patients who had multiple risk factors for mortality, a substantial minority survived, with a few patients achieving long-term survival.