The use of 'Quality-Adjusted Life Years' (QALYs) to evaluate treatment in intensive care

R. K. Kerridge*, P. P. Glasziou, K. M. Hillman

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

55 Citations (Scopus)


This study examines the feasibility of using Quality-Adjusted Life Years (QALYs) to assess patient outcome and the economic justification of treatment in an Intensive Care Unit (ICU). 248 patients were followed for three years after admission. Survival and quality of life for each patient was evaluated. Outcome for each patient was quantified in discounted Quality-Adjusted Life Years (dQALYs). The economic justification of treatment was evaluated by comparing the total and marginal cost per dQALY for this patient group with the published cost per QALY for other medical interventions. 150 patients were alive after three years. Quality of life for most longterm survivors was good. Patient outcome (QALYs) was greatest for asthma and trauma patients, and least for cardiogenic pulmonary oedema. The tentative estimated cost-effectiveness of treatment varied from AUD $297 per QALY for asthma to AUD $2323 per QALY for patients with pulmonary oedema. This compares favourably with many preventative and non-acute medical treatments. Although the methodology is developmental, the measurement of patient outcome using QALYs appears to be feasible in a general hospital ICU.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)322-331
Number of pages10
JournalAnaesthesia and Intensive Care
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1995
Externally publishedYes


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