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Outcomes and cost analysis of patients with dementia in the intensive care unit: a population-based cohort study

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Background — Dementia is a neurological syndrome affecting the growing elderly population. While patients with dementia are known to require significant hospital resources, little is known regarding the outcomes and costs of patients admitted to the intensive care unit (ICU) with dementia.

Methods — We conducted a population-based retrospective cohort study of patients with dementia admitted to the ICU in Ontario, Canada from 2016 to 2019. We described the characteristics and outcomes of these patients alongside those with dementia admitted to non-ICU hospital settings. The primary outcome was hospital mortality but we also assessed length of stay (LOS), discharge disposition, and costs.

Results — Among 114,844 patients with dementia, 11,341 (9.9%) were admitted to the ICU. ICU patients were younger, more comorbid, and had less cognitive impairment (81.8 years, 22.8% had ≥ 3 comorbidities, 47.5% with moderate-severe dementia), compared to those in non-ICU settings (84.2 years, 15.0% had ≥ 3 comorbidities, 54.1% with moderate-severe dementia). Total mean LOS for patients in the ICU group was nearly 20 days, compared to nearly 14 days for the acute care group. Mortality in hospital was nearly three-fold greater in the ICU group compared to non-ICU group (22.2% vs. 8.8%). Total healthcare costs were increased for patients admitted to ICU vs. those in the non-ICU group ($67,201 vs. $54,080).

Conclusions — We find that patients with dementia admitted to the ICU have longer length of stay, higher in-hospital mortality, and higher total healthcare costs. As our study is primarily descriptive, future studies should investigate comprehensive goals of care planning, severity of illness, preventable costs, and optimizing quality of life in this high risk and vulnerable population.

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Dziegielewski C, Fernando SM, Milani C, Mahdavi R, Talarico R, Thompson LH, Tanuseputro P, Kyeremanteng K. BMC Health Serv Res. 2023; 23(1):1124. Epub 2023 Oct 19.

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