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Crit Care. 2010;14(5):R175. doi: 10.1186/cc9279. Epub 2010 Oct 4.

Variations in the length of stay of intensive care unit nonsurvivors in three Scandinavian countries.

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Health Services Research Centre, Akershus University Hospital, Sykehusveien 25, 1478 Lørenskog, Norway.



The length of stay (LOS) in intensive care unit (ICU) nonsurvivors is not often reported, but represents an important indicator of the use of resources. LOS in ICU nonsurvivors may also be a marker of cultural and organizational differences between units. In this study based on the national intensive care registries in Finland, Sweden, and Norway, we aimed to report intensive care mortality and to document resource use as measured by LOS in ICU nonsurvivors.


Registry data from 53,305 ICU patients in 2006 were merged into a single database. ICU nonsurvivors were analyzed with regard to LOS within subgroups by univariate and multivariate analysis (Cox proportional hazards regression).


Vital status at ICU discharge was available for 52,255 patients. Overall ICU mortality was 9.1%. Median LOS of the nonsurvivors was 1.3 days in Finland and Sweden, and 1.9 days in Norway. The shortest LOS of the nonsurvivors was found in patients older than 80 years, emergency medical admissions, and the patients with the highest severity of illness. Multivariate analysis confirmed the longer LOS in Norway when corrected for age group, admission category, sex, and type of hospital. LOS in nonsurvivors was found to be inversely related to the severity of illness, as measured by APACHE II and SAPS II.


Despite cultural, religious, and educational similarities, significant variations occur in the LOS of ICU nonsurvivors among Finland, Norway, and Sweden. Overall, ICU mortality is low in the Scandinavian countries.

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