Objective: To study long-term mortality, quality of life (QOL), quality-adjusted life years (QALYs), and costs per QALY in an unselected intensive care unit (ICU) patient population with severe sepsis.
Design: Prospective observational cohort study.
Setting: Twenty-four ICUs in Finland.
Patients: A total of 470 adult patients with severe sepsis who were treated in ICUs between November 1, 2004 and February 28, 2005. The QOL before critical illness was assessed in 252 patients and QOL after severe sepsis in 156 patients (58% of the patients surviving in April 30, 2006). Ninety-eight patients responded to both questionnaires. QOL was assessed by a generic EuroQol-5D (EQ-5D) measurement with summary index (EQsum) and visual analogue scale (VAS).
Measurements and main results: The 2-year mortality after severe sepsis was 44.9% (211 of 470). The median response time for QOL assessment after severe sepsis was 17 months (interquartile range [IQR] 16-18). The median EQsum (75, IQR 56-92) and EQ VAS (66, IQR 50-80) were lower after severe sepsis than age- and sex-adjusted reference values (p < 0.001 and p < 0.001). The decrease between the mean EQsum reference value and that of severe sepsis patients was 12 (95% confidence interval [CI], 9-16). The difference between the mean EQ VAS reference values and the mean EQ VAS was 8 (95% CI, 5-11). The mean calculated QALYs after severe sepsis were 10.9 (95% CI, 9.7-12.1) and the calculated cost for one QALY was only 2139 [Euro sign] for all survivors and nonsurvivors.
Conclusions: Two-year mortality after severe sepsis was high (44.9%) and the QOL was lower after severe sepsis than before critical illness as assessed by EQ-5D. However, the mean QALYs for the surviving patients were reasonable and the cost for one QALY was reasonably low, which makes intensive care in patients with severe sepsis cost effective.