Objective: To evaluate the long-term survival of critically ill patients with sepsis and to assess the factors predictive of long-term survival (> 1 month after admission date).
Design: Prospective, cohort study.
Setting: Medical/surgical intensive care unit (ICU) in a multidisciplinary community hospital.
Patients: All patients admitted to the ICU from January 1, 1987 to March 31, 1991 who both demonstrated clinical evidence of the systemic inflammatory response syndrome and yielded blood cultures positive for a bacterium or fungus (n = 153).
Interventions: Random set of procedures normally performed in an ICU setting.
Measurements and main results: Patient characteristics, including age, blood culture results, comorbid conditions, and severity of illness as estimated by the Acute Physiology Score of the Acute Physiology and Chronic Health Evaluation II prognostic system were recorded. Follow-up evaluation utilizing the National Death Index provided survival outcome for all patients 1 yr after hospital discharge. The mortality rate at hospital discharge was 51.0%, and mortality rates at 1 month, 6 months, and 1 yr after admission date were 40.5%, 64.7%, and 71.9%, respectively. A total of 33 patients survived beyond the period of observation. The analyses demonstrated the following findings: a) the survival rate was negatively correlated with the Acute Physiology Score up to 1 month after hospital admission date, but uncorrelated thereafter; b) fungal infections, such as Candida, had the shortest survival prospects of any blood-borne infection; and c) both malignancy and human immunodeficiency virus infection contributed to poorer outcomes, but differed in their patterns of long-term survival.
Conclusions: The most critical period for surveillance of bacteremic patients was in months 2 through 6 after discharge, during which time, the percentage of patients surviving decreased dramatically. The degree of physiologic derangement, as measured by the Acute Physiology Score, was a useful measure of prognosis within the first month after the score was assessed at ICU admission. However, beyond this period, prognostic utility decreased significantly. Healthcare providers should use caution concerning the expected survival of hospitalized patients with human immunodeficiency virus, based on experience with distinct conditions, such as malignancies.