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Clinical Investigations in Critical Care |

The Epidemiology of Acute Respiratory Failure in Critically Ill Patients*

Jean-Louis Vincent, MD, PhD, FCCP; Serdar Akça, MD; Arnaldo de Mendonça, MD; Philip Haji-Michael, MD; Charles Sprung, MD, FCCP; Rui Moreno, MD; Massimo Antonelli, MD; Peter M. Suter, MD, FCCP; on behalf of the SOFA Working Group
Author and Funding Information

Affiliations: *From the Department of Intensive Care (Drs. Vincent, Akça, de Mendonça, and Haji-Michael), Erasme Hospital, Free University of Brussels, Brussels, Belgium; Department of Anesthesiology and Critical Care Medicine (Dr. Sprung), Hadassah-Hebrew University Medical Center, Jerusalem, Israel; Department of Intensive Care (Dr. Moreno), S. Antonio Capuchos Hospital, Lisbon, Portugal; Department of Anesthesiology and Intensive Care (Dr. Antonelli), Catholic University, Rome, Italy; and Division of Surgical Intensive Care (Dr. Suter), Cantonal University Hospital, Geneva, Switzerland.,  See Appendix for a list of participating centers.

Correspondence to: Jean-Louis Vincent, MD, PhD, FCCP, Department of Intensive Care, Erasme University Hospital, Route de Lennik 808, B-1070 Brussels, Belgium; e-mail: jlvincen@ulb.ac.be


Affiliations: *From the Department of Intensive Care (Drs. Vincent, Akça, de Mendonça, and Haji-Michael), Erasme Hospital, Free University of Brussels, Brussels, Belgium; Department of Anesthesiology and Critical Care Medicine (Dr. Sprung), Hadassah-Hebrew University Medical Center, Jerusalem, Israel; Department of Intensive Care (Dr. Moreno), S. Antonio Capuchos Hospital, Lisbon, Portugal; Department of Anesthesiology and Intensive Care (Dr. Antonelli), Catholic University, Rome, Italy; and Division of Surgical Intensive Care (Dr. Suter), Cantonal University Hospital, Geneva, Switzerland.,  See Appendix for a list of participating centers.


Chest. 2002;121(5):1602-1609. doi:10.1378/chest.121.5.1602
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Study objectives: To describe the risk factors for the development of and mortality resulting from acute respiratory failure (ARF) in a large patient population.

Design: A substudy of a prospective, multicenter, observational cohort study, which was designed to validate the sequential organ failure assessment score.

Setting: Forty ICUs in 16 countries.

Patients: All critically ill patients who were admitted to one of the participating ICUs during a 1-month period were observed until the end of their hospital course.

Measurements and results: Of the 1,449 patients who were enrolled into the study, 458 (32%) were admitted to an ICU with ARF, as defined by a Pao2/fraction of inspired oxygen ratio of < 200 mm Hg and the need for respiratory support. Patients who presented with ARF were older than the other patients (63 vs 57 years, respectively; p < 0.001) and more commonly had an infection (47% vs 20%, respectively; p < 0.001). The length of ICU stay was longer (6 vs 4 days, respectively; p < 0.001) and the ICU mortality rate was more than double (34% vs 16%, respectively; p < 0.001) in ARF patients compared to non-ARF patients. Of the 991 patients who were admitted to an ICU without ARF, 352 (35%) developed ARF later during the ICU stay. The independent risk factors for the development of ARF were infection developing in the ICU (odds ratio [OR], 7.59; 95% confidence interval [CI], 5.08 to 11.33) or present on ICU admission (OR, 2.3; 95% CI, 1.68 to 3.16), the presence of neurologic failure on ICU admission (OR, 2.73; 95% CI, 1.90 to 3.91), and older age (OR, 1.70; 95% CI, 1.30 to 2.22). Of all 810 patients with ARF, 253 (31%) died. The independent risk factors for death were multiple organ failure following ICU admission, history of hematologic malignancy, chronic renal failure or liver cirrhosis, the presence of circulatory shock on ICU admission, the presence of infection, and older age.

Conclusions: The present study stresses that ARF is common in the ICU (56% of all patients) and that a number of extrapulmonary factors are related to the risk of development of ARF and to mortality rate in these patients.

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