Incidence and long-term outcomes of critically ill adult patients with moderate-to-severe diabetic ketoacidosis: retrospective matched cohort study

J Crit Care. 2014 Dec;29(6):971-7. doi: 10.1016/j.jcrc.2014.07.034. Epub 2014 Aug 16.


Objective: The objective of this study was to describe the clinical outcomes and treatment intensity of adult intensive care unit (ICU) patients with moderate-to-severe diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA). We aimed also to compare their clinical course with matched non-DKA ICU controls and to identify prognostic factors for mortality and hospital readmission within 1 year.

Design: This is a retrospective matched cohort study.

Setting: The settings are 2 tertiary teaching hospitals in Edmonton, Canada.

Patients: Patients were adults with moderate-to-severe DKA admitted from January 2002 to December 2009. Control patients were defined as randomly selected age, sex, and Acute Physiology and Chronic Health Evaluation II score-matched nondiabetic ICU patients (1:4.5 matching ratio). Diabetic patients were stratified according to severity of exacerbation.

Interventions: None.

Measurements and main results: From 2002 to 2009, the incidence of DKA per 1000 admissions was 4.59 (95% confidence interval [CI], 3.64-5.71). Severe DKA was associated with higher Acute Physiology and Chronic Health Evaluation II and Sequential Organ Failure Assessment scores in the first 3 days of ICU stay as compared with moderate DKA. Mechanical ventilation was received in 39%, vasopressors in 17%, and renal replacement therapy in 12% of DKA patients, respectively. One-year mortality and readmission rates were 9% and 36%. By logistic regression, death and/or readmission occurring in 1 year was independently associated with insulin use (odds ratio, 4.79; 95% CI, 1.14-20.05) and treatment noncompliance (odds ratio, 3.33; 95% CI, 1.04-10.64). Compared with matched non-DKA patients, those with DKA had lower mortality and were more likely to be discharged home.

Conclusions: Diabetic ketoacidosis necessitating ICU admission is associated with considerable resource utilization and long-term risk for death. Interventions aimed to improve compliance with therapy may prevent readmissions and improve the long-term outcome.

Keywords: Diabetes mellitus; Diabetic ketoacidosis; Insulin; Intensive care unit; Mortality; Resource utilization.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Alberta / epidemiology
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Critical Illness
  • Diabetic Ketoacidosis* / epidemiology
  • Diabetic Ketoacidosis* / mortality
  • Diabetic Ketoacidosis* / physiopathology
  • Diabetic Ketoacidosis* / therapy
  • Female
  • Health Resources / statistics & numerical data
  • Hospitalization / statistics & numerical data
  • Hospitals, Teaching
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Intensive Care Units / statistics & numerical data
  • Length of Stay
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Organ Dysfunction Scores
  • Patient Readmission
  • Respiration, Artificial / statistics & numerical data
  • Retrospective Studies