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Anaesthesia. 2002 Jan;57(1):21-6.

The impact of low-risk intensive care unit admissions on mortality probabilities by SAPS II, APACHE II and APACHE III.

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Department of Anaesthesiology and Intensive Care Medicine, Charité, Humboldt University, Schumannstr. 20-21, D-10098 Berlin, Germany.


A large proportion of intensive care unit patients are low-risk admissions. Mortality probabilities generated by predictive systems may not accurately reflect the mortality experienced by subpopulations of critically ill patients. We prospectively assessed the impact of low-risk admissions (mortality risk < 10%) on the mortality estimates generated by three prognostic models. We studied 1497 consecutive admissions to a general intensive care unit. The performance of the three models for subgroups and the whole population was analysed. The proportions of patients designated as low risk varied with the model and differences in model performance were most pronounced for these patients. The APACHE II mortality ratios (1.32 vs. 1.19) did not differ for low- and higher risk patients, but mortality ratios generated by APACHE III (2.38 vs. 1.23) and SAPS II (2.19 vs. 1.16) were nearly two-fold greater. Calibration for higher risk patients was similar for all three models but the APACHE III system calibrated worse than the other models for low-risk patients. This may have contributed to the poorer overall calibration of the APACHE III system (Hosmer-Lemeshow C-test: APACHE III chi(2) = 329; APACHE II chi(2) = 42; SAPS II chi(2) = 62). Imperfect characterisation of the large proportion of low-risk intensive care unit admissions may contribute to the deterioration of the models' predictive accuracies for the intensive care population as a whole.

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