Role of the anesthesiologist-intensivist outside the ICU: opportunity to add value for the hospital or an unnecessary distraction?

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Purpose of review

Given the extremely expensive nature of critical care medicine, it seems logical that intensivists should play an active role in designing efficient systems of care. The true value of intensivists, however, is not well defined.

Recent findings

Anesthesiologists have taken key roles in improving patient safety in the operating room. Anesthesia-related mortality rates have decreased from 20 deaths per 100 000 anesthetics in the early 1980s to less than one death per 100 000 currently. Anesthesiologist-intensivists remain rare (less than 5% of certified anesthesiologists), but increasingly play multiple roles within multidisciplinary teams. This review outlines the roles of intensivists in performance improvement, perioperative assessment; sedation services, extracorporeal and mechanical support, and code/rapid response teams. Critical-care physicians, by definition, work in collaborative multispecialty and multidisciplinary teams that make it difficult to isolate each team member's precise contribution to healthcare value.


Anesthesiologist-intensivists working outside their usual environment provide leadership and clinical guidance towards improving patient outcomes.

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