Risk factors for unexpected death from suffocation in elderly patients hospitalized for pneumonia

 

Komiya K, Ishii H, Okabe E, Iwashita T, Miyajima H, Tsubone T, Ohama M, Kushima H, Matsumoto B, Kadota JI.

Geriatr Gerontol Int. 2012 Jul 23. doi: 10.1111/j.1447-0594.2012.00912.x. [Epub ahead of print]

Abstract

Aim:  Unexpected death from suffocation as a result of ortholaryngeal mucinous secretions or vomitus during recovery from pneumonia is devastating for patients, their families and medical professionals. This study aimed to determine the risk factors for unexpected death from suffocation in elderly patients hospitalized for pneumonia. Methods:  This study was carried out with patients aged 65 years and older that were hospitalized for pneumonia and died of any cause. Unexpected death from suffocation was defined as: (i) being in the recovery stage of pneumonia; (ii) presenting stable vital signs a week before death; (iii) dying within 24 h after suffocation; and (iv) aspiration confirmed by transtracheal suction. The clinical features and courses, and methods of feeding were retrospectively analyzed. Results:  A total of 11 patients that had an unexpected death from suffocation and 62 patients who died of other causes were enrolled. There were significantly more patients that received tube feeding after admission (continuation and introduction) among the patients who had died of suffocation (63.6%) than in those who had died of other causes (12.9%; P < 0.001). A multiple logistic regression analysis showed that tube feeding after admission was strongly associated with unexpected death from suffocation (adjusted odds ratio 9.536, P = 0.047) after adjusting for sex, age, level of serum albumin, PaO(2) /FIO(2) ratio, the pneumonia severity score and performance status. Conclusion:  A continuation of tube feeding after admission is thus considered to be a significant predictor of unexpected death from suffocation in elderly patients with pneumonia. Geriatr Gerontol Int 2012.

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