Objectives: To examine ICU admission rates and diagnoses of patients with HIV infection and to determine the outcomes of different critical illnesses.
Design: Consecutive enrollment of patients admitted to the ICU with confirmed HIV infection or an AIDS-de-fining diagnosis.
Setting: Medical ICU of an urban teaching hospital.
Patients: 65 adult patients with documented HIV infection or AIDS-defining disorder.
Interventions: Standard care.
Results: In 1 year, there were 1,550 hospital admissions for patients with HIV infection, and 65 (4.2%) were admitted to the ICU. The mortality rate of patients admitted to the ICU was 51%; 35 (54%) were admitted with respiratory failure, 22 of whom had Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia (PCP). Sixteen patients with PCP required mechanical ventilation, and 13 (81%) died despite treatment with adjunctive corticosteroids. Other causes of respiratory failure included bacterial pneumonia, pulmonary tuberculosis, adult respiratory distress syndrome, and pulmonary Kaposi's sarcoma. Overall, 22 of 35 (63%) patients with respiratory failure died in the hospital. Thirty patients (46%) were admitted because of sepsis, neurologic disease, congestive heart failure, hypotension, or drug overdose. These patients had a mortality rate of 37%. Prior antiretroviral and anti-Pneumocystis prophylaxis did not influence out-come, but a body weight of 10% or more below ideal at the time of admission predicted poor survival.
Conclusion: There is a diverse range of indications for critical care in patients with HIV infection. Although respiratory failure due to PCP was the most common reason for admission to the ICU, it accounted for only 34% of the cases. The prognosis of PCP in patients who require mechanical ventilation despite adjunctive corticosteroid treatment is poor.