Factors present on admission associated with increased mortality in children admitted to a paediatric intensive care unit (PICU)

Candice L Hendricks, N H McKerrow, R J Hendricks


Background. The admission of children to an intensive care unit (ICU) necessitates the selection of children who will benefit most from scarce ICU resources. Decisions should be based on objective data available on outcomes related to particular conditions and resource availability. 

Objective. To determine which sociodemographic factors and paediatric scoring systems can be used on admission to identify patients who would derive the most benefit.

Methods. A retrospective review was undertaken of the charts of children admitted to a paediatric ICU (PICU) over a 6-month period. Charts were analysed according to health status, biographical and demographic data, as well as Pediatric Risk of Mortality (PRISM), Pediatric Logistic Organ Dysfunction (PELOD) and Paediatric Index of Mortality 3 (PIM3) scores to determine which factors were associated with an increased mortality risk.

Results. Two hundred and two children were admitted during the study period. Ninety-six children were included in the study, 79 files were not found and 27 children were ineligible. The median age was 14 months and the mortality rate was 15.6%. The significant factor associated with mortality was severe malnutrition. In total 88% of required data were available for the calculation of both the PRISM and PELOD scores and 95% for PIM3 score. The PRISM, PELOD and PIM3 standardised mortality ratios were 2.5, 4.8 and 2.9, respectively. P-values for PRISM, PELOD and PIM3 were <0.05.

Conclusion. Severe malnutrition is a statistically significant factor in predicting mortality. This possibly reflects the social context in which the children live. PRISM, PELOD and PIM3 underpredict mortality in our setting. A larger sample is required to verify these outcomes and to determine whether other factors play a role.

Authors' affiliations

Candice L Hendricks, Department of Paediatrics and Child Health, Nelson R Mandela School of Medicine, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban

N H McKerrow, Department of Paediatrics and Child Health, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, and Department of Health, KwaZulu-Natal

R J Hendricks, Independent consultant, Durban

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paediatric intensive care unit; mortality

Cite this article

South African Journal of Child Health 2016;10(1):57-62. DOI:10.7196/SAJCH.2016.v10i1.1048

Article History

Date submitted: 2015-10-23
Date published: 2016-03-29

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