The study delivered today by Dr Rinaldo Bellomo from the Monash University School of Public Health and Preventative Medicine, at the International Symposium on Intensive Care and Emergency Medicine in Belgium, Brussels.
Simultaneously published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), the study highlights how Australia and New Zealand have reported the lowest rates of mortality for ICU sepsis in the world for the past 10 years.
Sepsis – or septicaemia – is a major cause of patients entering ICUs worldwide.
The study looked at more than one million patients admitted to Australian and New Zealand hospitals from 2000 to 2012. Over this time, the number of patients entering ICUs with sepsis increased from 7.2 per cent in 2000 to 11.1 per cent over the 12 years. However, over the same time span deaths from sepsis in ICU dropped from 35 per cent to 18.4 per cent.
Importantly, young to middle-aged patients with few other medical issues other than sepsis had mortality rates of less than five per cent by 2012.
Dr Bellomo explained how a group of intensive care physicians and anaesthetists from Australia and New Zealand established the Australian New Zealand Intensive Care Society Centre for Outcome and Resource Evaluation with the aim of systematically measuring and reporting outcomes of care in ICUs.
“Intensive care medicine in Australia and New Zealand is unique in the world in managing patients in a uniform and coordinated manner, Dr Bellomo said.
Contributing to the study Monash University Adjunct Associate Professor and Director of ANZICS-CORE David Pilcher explained, how data collected for over a decade provided unique ways to analyse and learn from what works and doesn’t work.
“While there is an increase in the number of ICU patients being discharged from hospital, those same patients still require rehabilitation and chronic care facilities.
“Although we know there are survivors, we don’t know what their level of function is and if they can provide basic care for themselves. The burden to the community and cost implications of long term care for people leaving ICU is becoming an emerging and critical health issue,” Professor Pilcher said.
The significant reduction in mortality rates highlighted in the study has been attributed to a coordinated approach to ICUs by Australia and New Zealand. In the 1970s, Australia and New Zealand established the first closed ICUs in the world, where a group of full time dedicated specialists managed the critically sick patients in a hospital 24 hours a day.