OBJECTIVE. To determine the characteristics of obstetric patients admitted to the intensive care unit (ICU) at a tertiary hospital in the
Limpopo Province, South Africa.
METHODS. Hospital files of all obstetric patients admitted to the Pietersburg provincial referral hospital ICU from 1 January 2008 to 31
December 2012 were retrospectively reviewed. Age, parity, admission diagnosis, length of stay, information on the referring hospitals,
and maternal outcomes were analysed.
RESULTS. There were 138 obstetric ICU admissions during the study period (6.7% of all ICU admissions and 0.95% of all deliveries). The most common
reasons for obstetric ICU admissions were pre-eclampsia or eclampsia (52.9%, n=73/138) and obstetric haemorrhage (18.1%, n=25/138). The mean
age of the patients was 28 years, and mean duration of ICU stay was 8 days (range 0 - 163 days). Forty-eight maternal deaths occurred (34.8%), and
of these, 27 were referrals from other hospitals (district and regional hospitals). Pre-eclampsia or eclampsia accounted for 25 (52%) of all deaths.
CONCLUSION. Obstetric patients formed a small proportion of ICU admissions, but mortality among these patients was high. It is recommended
that obstetric registrars rotate through a multidisciplinary ICU, and the need for a critical care specialist should be considered.