Herpes Simplex Virus Encephalitis: Patterns of Epidemiology and Outcomes of Patients Admitted to the Intensive Care Unit in Texas, 2008 - 2016

Lavi Oud


Background: Patients with herpes simplex virus encephalitis (HSVE) often require admission to the intensive care unit (ICU) and have considerably worse outcomes than those not critically ill. The short-term outcomes of critically ill patients in the general population have markedly improved over the past decades. However, the population-level patterns of demand for critical care services among patients with HSVE have not been examined, and it is unknown whether there were corresponding outcome gains among those admitted to the ICU.

Methods: The Texas Inpatient Public Use Data File was used to identify hospitalizations with HSVE aged ≥ 18 years during 2008 - 2016. ICU admissions were identified using unit-specific revenue codes. The patterns of ICU utilization and those of short-term outcomes (with short-term mortality defined as in-hospital death or discharge to hospice) were examined across demographic strata and over time.

Results: Among 1,964 hospitalizations with HSVE, 1,176 (59.9%) were admitted to ICU (45.8% aged ≥ 65 years; 53.1% female, among ICU admissions). ICU utilization increased with age (from 47.9% (age 18 - 44 years) through 61.2% (older adults (age ≥ 65 years)); P = 0.0003 for trend), and increased over time only among older adults (odds ratio: 1.06/year (95% confidence interval (CI): 1.01 - 1.12)). Among ICU admissions, routine home discharge, transfer to a post-acute care facility, and short-term mortality occurred in 26.8%, 39.5%, and 18.7%, respectively; the corresponding outcomes for older adults were 10.6%, 51.4%, and 26.2%, respectively. The outcomes for the whole cohort of ICU admissions remained unchanged over time.

Conclusions: Adults with HSVE had high demand for critical care services, and those admitted to ICU had high short-term mortality and substantial residual morbidity among survivors, which remained unchanged over time. These findings can inform clinicians’ decision-making and discussions about goals of care with affected patients and their surrogates.

J Clin Med Res. 2019;11(12):773-779
doi: https://doi.org/10.14740/jocmr4025


Herpes simplex virus; Encephalitis; Intensive care unit; Epidemiology; Short-term outcomes

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