IMPORTANCE: Multistate models yield high-fidelity analyses of the dynamic state transition and temporal dimensions of a clinical condition's natural history, offering superiority over aggregate modeling techniques for addressing these types of problems. OBJECTIVES: To demonstrate the utility of these models in critical care, we examined acute kidney injury (AKI) development, progression, and outcomes in COVID-19 critical illness through multistate analyses. DESIGN, SETTING, AND PARTICIPANTS: Retrospective cohort study at an urban tertiary-care academic hospital in the United States. All patients greater than or equal to 18 years in an ICU with COVID-19 in 2020, excluding patients with preexisting end-stage renal disease. MAIN OUTCOMES AND MEASURES: Using electronic health record data, we determined AKI presence/stage in discrete 12-hour time windows and fit multistate models to determine longitudinal transitions and outcomes. RESULTS: Of 367 encounters, 241 (66%) experienced AKI (maximal stages: 88 stage-1, 49 stage-2, 104 stage-3 AKI [51 received renal replacement therapy (RRT), 53 did not]). Patients receiving RRT overwhelmingly received invasive mechanical ventilation (IMV) (n = 60, 95%) compared with the AKI-without-RRT (n = 98, 53%) and no-AKI groups (n = 39, 32%; p < 0.001), with similar mortality patterns (RRT: n = 36, 57%; AKI: n = 74, 40%; non-AKI: n = 23, 19%; p < 0.001). After 24 hours in the ICU, almost half the cohort had AKI (44.9%; 95% CI, 41.6-48.2%). At 7 days after stage-1 AKI, 74.0% (63.6-84.4) were AKI-free or discharged. By contrast, fewer patients experiencing stage-3 AKI were recovered (30.0% [24.1-35.8%]) or discharged (7.9% [5.2-10.7%]) after 7 days. Early AKI occurred with similar frequency in patients receiving and not receiving IMV: after 24 hours in the ICU, 20.9% of patients (18.3-23.6%) had AKI and IMV, while 23.4% (20.6-26.2%) had AKI without IMV. CONCLUSIONS AND RELEVANCE: In a multistate analysis of critically ill patients with COVID-19, AKI occurred early and heterogeneously in the course of critical illness. Multistate methods are useful and underused in ICU care delivery science as tools for understanding trajectories, prognoses, and resource needs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)E0784
JournalCritical Care Explorations
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 1 2022


  • COVID-19
  • acute kidney injury
  • critical illness
  • hospital outcomes
  • statistical modeling


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