Objective: To evaluate the long-term outcome of children following admission to a paediatric intensive care unit.
Design: Prospective, long-term follow-up study.
Setting: Sixteen-bed multi-disciplinary paediatric intensive care unit in a free-standing, university, tertiary, teaching hospital.
Patients: All children consecutively admitted to the paediatric intensive care unit from 1(st) January, 1995, to 31(st) December, 1995.
Interventions: Outcome was evaluated, by telephone interview, at a median of 3.5 years (range 2.3-6 years) after admission to the intensive care unit using a modification of the Glasgow Outcome Score (GOS) to assess functional outcome and the Health State Utility Index (Mark 1) to assess quality of life.
Measurements and main results: Of the children admitted to the intensive care unit, 83.8% were alive at the time of follow-up. While 10.3% of the survivors had an unfavourable outcome and were likely to live dependent on care, 89.7% had a favourable outcome and were likely to lead an independent existence. Although 16.4% had an unfavourable quality of life, 83.6% of the children survived with a favourable quality of life. At the time of follow-up, 16.2% of the children were dead: 49% died in the intensive care unit, 5% died in hospital and 46% died after discharge from hospital.
Conclusions: The majority of children admitted to a paediatric intensive care unit survive with an excellent functional outcome and quality of life. Long-term outcome assessment provides a basis for observing trends in outcome over time within the same institution.