Artificial neural networks improve and simplify intensive care mortality prognostication: a national cohort study of 217,289 first-time intensive care unit admissions

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


We investigated if early intensive care unit (ICU) scoring with the Simplified Acute Physiology Score (SAPS 3) could be improved using artificial neural networks (ANNs). Methods All first-time adult intensive care admissions in Sweden during 2009-2017 were included. A test set was set aside for validation. We trained ANNs with two hidden layers with random hyper-parameters and retained the best ANN, determined using cross-validation. The ANNs were constructed using the same parameters as in the SAPS 3 model. The performance was assessed with the area under the receiver operating characteristic curve (AUC) and Brier score.
A total of 217,289 admissions were included. The developed ANN (AUC 0.89 and Brier score 0.096) was found to be superior (p textless10-15 for AUC and p textless10-5 for Brier score) in early prediction of 30-day mortality for intensive care patients when compared with SAPS 3 (AUC 0.85 and Brier score 0.109). In addition, a simple, eight-parameter ANN model was found to perform just as well as SAPS 3, but with better calibration (AUC 0.85 and and Brier score 0.106, p textless10-5). Furthermore, the ANN model was superior in correcting mortality for age.
ANNs can outperform the SAPS 3 model for early prediction of 30-day mortality for intensive care patients.


External organisations
  • Skåne University Hospital
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Anesthesiology and Intensive Care


  • artificial intelligence, artificial neural networks, critical care, intensive care, machine learning, mortality, prediction, survival
Original languageEnglish
Article number44
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Intensive Care
Publication statusPublished - 2019
Publication categoryResearch