Chemotherapy in the Intensive Care Unit: An Evaluation of Context and Outcomes

Link to article at PubMed

Can J Hosp Pharm. 2020 Fall;73(4):279-287. Epub 2020 Oct 1.


BACKGROUND: Administration of chemotherapy to highly vulnerable, critically ill patients in the intensive care unit (ICU) is becoming more common, but the process requires significantly more resources than chemotherapy administration in specialized oncology settings.

OBJECTIVE: To describe the context, complications, and outcomes of chemotherapy administration for cancer-related indications in ICU patients.

METHODS: For this retrospective observational study, consecutive patients receiving parenteral chemotherapy in the ICU at the General Campus of The Ottawa Hospital between January 1, 2014, and December 31, 2017, were identified using pharmacy records. The clinical characteristics of these patients, details of their chemotherapy regimens, and outcomes were analyzed.

RESULTS: A total of 32 patients were included in the study. Of these, 27 patients (84%) had a hematological malignancy, 16 (50%) had a documented infection at the time of chemotherapy administration, and 29 (91%) received their first cycle of chemotherapy on an urgent basis during the ICU admission rather than as a scheduled or planned treatment. Severity of illness was high both at ICU admission and at the time of chemotherapy treatment; regimen modifications, drug interactions, and adverse events were common. Remission and survival data were available for 28 patients at 12 months. Eighteen (56%) of the 32 patients survived to hospital discharge, and 12 (38%) survived to 6 months; at 12 months, survival was 25% (7 of 28 patients with available data). About one-quarter of the patients were in remission at 6 and 12 months.

CONCLUSION: Administering chemotherapy in the ICU is feasible, but the process is resource-intensive. Patients with aggressive hematological cancers who require treatment on an urgent basis represent the most commonly observed scenario. This study highlights the complexity of management and the importance of multidisciplinary care teams for this patient population.

PMID:33100360 | PMC:PMC7556399

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