Objectives: To study the long-term (12 year) survival and quality of life (QOL) in former ICU patients.
Setting: Two hundred and thirty-six ICU admissions from a total of 219 patients treated in a Norwegian University Hospital in 1987.
Design and methods: A retrospective analysis of the ICU stays and a prospective observation of survival using available information from the Norwegian Peoples Registry. QOL was studied in survivors in 2000 using the Short Form-36 (SF-36) questionnaire. Survival was compared with available statistics for the general Norwegian population (gender- and age-matched), and QOL was compared with published data from a Norwegian reference population.
Results: A total of 106 (48.4 %) patients survived the first 12 years after ICU. Of the non-survivors (113) 66.4 % died within the first year. Two years after discharge the further survival of former ICU patients was 0.763 compared to 0.826 in the general population (difference 0.063 with 95 % CI from -0.007 to 0.134). QOL was significantly less than in the reference population in six of the eight scales of SF-36 (average 82.5%).
Conclusions: Our findings indicate that the long-term outcome after ICU is good, with an acceptable QOL and a life expectancy comparable with the general population in survivors 2 years after the ICU stay.