Patient flow variability and unplanned readmissions to an intensive care unit*


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Abstract

Objective:To determine whether high patient inflow volumes to an intensive care unit are associated with unplanned readmissions to the unit.Design:Retrospective comparative analysis.Setting:The setting is a large urban tertiary care academic medical center.Patients:Patients (n = 3233) discharged from an adult neurosciences critical care unit to a lower level of care from January 1, 2006 through November 30, 2007.Interventions:None.Measurements and Main Results:The main outcome variable is unplanned patient readmission to the neurosciences critical care unit within 72 hrs of discharge to a lower level of care. The odds of one or more discharges becoming an unplanned readmission within 72 hrs were nearly two and a half times higher on days when ≥9 patients were admitted to the neurosciences critical care unit (odds ratio, 2.43; 95% confidence interval, 1.39–4.26) compared with days with ≤8 admissions. The odds of readmission were nearly five times higher on days when ≥10 patients were admitted (odds ratio, 4.99; 95% confidence interval, 2.45–10.17) compared with days with ≤9 admissions. Adjusting for patient complexity, the odds of an unplanned readmission were 2.34 times higher for patients discharged to a lower level of care on days with ≥10 admissions to the neurosciences critical care unit (odds ratio, 2.34; 95% confidence interval, 1.27–4.34) compared with similar patients discharged on days of ≤9 admissions.Conclusions:Days of high patient inflow volumes to the unit were associated significantly with subsequent unplanned readmissions to the unit. Furthermore, the data indicate a possible dose-response relationship between intensive care unit inflow and patient outcomes. Further research is needed to understand how to defend against this risk for readmission.

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