Background: Little has been reported about intensive care of children in Sweden. The aims of this study are to (I) assess the number of admissions, types of diagnoses and length-of-stay (LOS) for all Swedish children admitted to intensive care during the years 1998-2001, and compare paediatric intensive care units (PICUs) with other intensive care units (adult ICUs) (II) assess immediate (ICU) and cumulative 5-year mortality and (III) determine the actual consumption of paediatric intensive care for the defined age group in Sweden.
Methods: Children between 6 months and 16 years of age admitted to intensive care in Sweden were included in a national multicentre, ambidirectional cohort study. In PICUs, data were also collected for infants aged 1-6 months. Survival data were retrieved from the National Files of Registration, 5 years after admission.
Results: Eight-thousand sixty-three admissions for a total of 6661 patients were identified, corresponding to an admission rate of 1.59/1000 children per year. Median LOS was 1 day. ICU mortality was 2.1% and cumulative 5-year mortality rate was 5.6%. Forty-four per cent of all admissions were to a PICU.
Conclusions: This study has shown that Sweden has a low immediate ICU mortality, similar in adult ICU and PICU. Patients discharged alive from an ICU had a 20-fold increased mortality risk, compared with a control cohort for the 5-year period. Less than half of the paediatric patients admitted for intensive care in Sweden were cared for in a PICU. Studies are needed to evaluate whether a centralization of paediatric intensive care in Sweden would be beneficial to the paediatric population.