Long-term outcomes after severe drug overdose

Lee Y Wong, Rinaldo Bellomo, Ray Robbins, Johan Martensson, Richard Kanaan, Richard Newton, Chih-Chiang Hu, David M Taylor

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8 Citations (Scopus)


Objective: The long-term outcomes of patients with drug overdose admitted to the intensive care unit compared with those admitted to general wards have not been assessed. We aimed to compare the recurrence of overdose, mortality after hospital discharge, cause of death and quality-of-life scores (using the EQ-5D questionnaire) between the ICU patients and general ward patients. Methods: We performed a retrospective cohort study of 102 ICU patients with drug overdose and 102 matched general ward patients with drug overdose in a universityaffi liated teaching hospital between 2009 and 2013. We undertook standardised follow-up of patients for recurrence of overdose, long-term mortality and quality-oflife assessment. Results: At 4-year follow-up, 33.3% of ICU patients had experienced further self-harm attempts, compared with 36.3% of general ward patients (P = 0.66). Ten ICU patients (10%) and five general ward patients (5%) had died. Causes of death included hanging in three patients and drug overdose in another three. On multivariate regression analysis, previous overdose attempts significantly predicted future overdoses and self-harm (odds ratio, 2.34; 95% CI, 1.27–4.30; P = 0.006). Overall, 101 patients (49.5%) were lost to follow-up and eight (3.9%) refused participation. For those remaining, EQ-5D scores were low, especially in the dimensions of anxiety/depression, usual activities and pain/discomfort. Conclusions: ICU and general ward patients with overdose have similar, overwhelming prevalences of psychiatric disease, and similar outcome profiles. Such patients experience frequent overdoses and, despite being young, if admitted to the ICU, have a 10% 4-year mortality, with self-harm the dominant cause of death. Finally, among survivors who responded to the follow-up questionnaire, quality of life is poor.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)247-254
Number of pages8
JournalCritical Care and Resuscitation
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2016
Externally publishedYes

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