The age of patients admitted into critical care in the UK is increasing. Clinical decisions for very-old patients, usually defined as over 80, can be challenging. Clinicians are frequently asked to predict outcomes as part of discussions around the pros and cons of an intensive care unit (ICU) admission. Measures of overall health in old age, such as the clinical frailty scale (CFS), are increasingly used to help guide these discussions. We aimed to understand the characteristics of the very-old critically unwell population in the UK and the associations between frailty and outcome of an ICU admission in our healthcare system (National Health Service, NHS).
Baseline characteristics, ICU interventions and outcomes (ICU- and 30-day mortality) were recorded for sequential admissions of very old patients to UK ICUs as part of the European VIP 1 and 2 studies. Patient characteristics, interventions and outcome measures were compared by frailty group using standard statistical tests. Multivariable logistic regression modelling was undertaken to test association between baseline characteristics, admission type and outcome.
1858 participants were enrolled from 95 ICUs in the UK. The median age was 83. The median CFS was 4 (IQR 3–5). 30-day survival was significantly lower in the frail group (CFS > 4, 58%) compared to vulnerable (CFS = 4, 65%) and fit (CFS < 4 68%, p = .004). Sequential organ failure assessment (SOFA) score, reason for admission and CFS were all independently associated with increased 30-day mortality ( p < .01).
In the UK, frailty is associated with an increase in mortality at 30-days following an ICU admission. At moderate frailty (CFS 5–6), three out of every five patients admitted survived to 30-days. This is a similar mortality to septic shock.