Objective: To determine the national rate per delivery of pregnancy-related ICU admissions of women in France, the characteristics and severity of these cases, and their trends over the 4-year study period.
Design: Descriptive study from the national hospital discharge database.
Setting: All ICUs in France.
Patients: All women admitted to an ICU during the pregnancy, the delivery, or the postpartum period from January 1, 2006, to December 31, 2009.
Measurements and main results: Of 3,262,526 deliveries, 11,824 women had pregnancy-related ICU admissions, for an overall rate of 3.6 per 1,000 deliveries. The conditions reported most frequently were obstetric hemorrhages (34.2%) and hypertensive disorders of pregnancy (22.3%). Case severity was assessed with four markers: case-fatality rate (1.3%), length of ICU stay (mean, 3.0 ± 0.1 d), Simplified Acute Physiology Score II score (mean: 19.7 ± 0.1), and a SUP REA code, which indicates the combination of a Simplified Acute Physiology Score II score more than or equal to 15 and at least one specific procedure related to life support or organ failure (23.0%). The most frequent causes of ICU admission were those associated with the least severity in the ICU. During the study period, the rate of pregnancy-related ICU admissions decreased from 3.9 to 3.4 per 1,000 deliveries (p < 0.001), whereas the overall severity of cases increased with longer stays, higher Simplified Acute Physiology Score II scores, and a greater proportion of SUP REA codes (all p < 0.001). Analysis by principal diagnosis showed that the severity of the condition of women admitted to ICU significantly increased over time for hemorrhages and hypertensive complications.
Conclusions: The rate of women with pregnancy-related ICU admissions decreased and the severity of their cases increased. Most ICU admissions remained related to the least severe conditions. This raises the issue of the most appropriate organization of care for women with pregnancy-related conditions who require continuous surveillance but not necessarily intensive care.