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Crit Care. 2003 Feb;7(1):72-8. Epub 2002 Dec 18.

Cost of intensive care in a Norwegian University hospital 1997-1999.

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  • 1Director of Intensive Care Unit, Department of Anaesthesia and Intensive Care, Haukeland University Hospital, Bergen, Norway.



The present study was performed in order to document costs of intensive care in a Norwegian university hospital and to perform an average cost-effectiveness study using the expected remaining life-years in survivors after 18 months.


Patients admitted to the general intensive care unit (ICU) at Haukeland University Hospital from 1997 to 1999 were followed up to 18 months post ICU using data from the Norwegian Peoples' registry. Our ICU patients have a further mortality equal to the average population in Norway from that time. By creating an age-matched and sex-matched sample of the general Norwegian population equal to survivors 18 months after ICU treatment, we could find the expected further survival time for each ICU survivor. Direct and indirect ICU expenses in the study period were retrieved using a 'top-down' method. Outcome assessment was performed using the total ICU expenses in the period divided by the sum of the life expectancy (years) in survivors after 18 months.


The total ICU costs (converted to 2001 values) were 16,697,415, excluding the costs of radiology and the use of operating theatres, which were both impossible to retrieve. A total of 1051 patients were treated, of whom 60.9% survived up to 18 months. Further total life expectancies were 24,428 years. The average costs of an ICU day and stay per patient were 2601 and 14,223, respectively, and the average cost per year of survival per patient was 684.


The absolute costs were found to be higher than recent European ICU studies reporting on the cost of ICU treatment. However, the price of a further life-year in survivors was lower and was comparable with other medical treatment.

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