Frailty in very old critically ill patients in Australia and New Zealand: a population-based cohort study

Jai N. Darvall, Rinaldo Bellomo, Eldho Paul, Ashwin Subramaniam, John D. Santamaria, Sean M. Bagshaw, Sumeet Rai, Ruth E. Hubbard, David Pilcher

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Objective: To explore associations between frailty (Clinical Frailty Scale score of 5 or more) in very old patients in intensive care units (ICUs) and their clinical outcomes (mortality, discharge destination). Design, setting and participants: Retrospective population cohort analysis of Australian and New Zealand Intensive Care Society (ANZICS) Adult Patient Database data for all patients aged 80 years or more admitted to participating ICUs between 1 January 2017 and 31 December 2018. Main outcome measures: Primary outcome: in-hospital mortality; secondary outcomes: length of stay (hospital, ICU), re-admission to ICU during the same hospital admission, discharge destination (including new chronic care or nursing home admission). Results: Frailty status data were available for 15 613 of 45 773 patients aged 80 years or more admitted to 178 ICUs (34%); 6203 of these patients (39.7%) were deemed frail. A smaller proportion of frail than non-frail patients were men (47% v 57%), the mean illness severity scores of frail patients were slightly higher than those of non-frail patients, and they were more frequently admitted from the emergency department (28% v 21%) or with sepsis (12% v 7%) or respiratory complications (16% v 12%). In-hospital mortality was higher for frail patients (17.6% v 8.2%; adjusted odds ratio [OR], 1.87 [95% CI, 1.65–2.11]). Median lengths of ICU and hospital stay were slightly longer for frail patients, and they were more frequently discharged to new nursing home or chronic care (4.9% v 2.8%; adjusted OR, 1.61 [95% CI, 1.34–1.95]). Conclusions: Many very old critically ill patients in Australia and New Zealand are frail, and frailty is associated with considerably poorer health outcomes. Routine screening of older ICU patients for frailty could improve outcome prediction and inform intensive care and community health care planning.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)318-323
Number of pages6
JournalThe Medical Journal of Australia
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2019


  • Aged
  • Critical care
  • Health services for the aged
  • Intensive care

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