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Recommendations for triage to intensive care units (ICUs) have been issued but not evaluated.In this prospective, multicenter study, all patients granted or refused admission to 26 ICUs affiliated with the French Society for Critical Care were included during a 1-month period. Characteristics of participating ICUs and patients, circumstances of triage, and description of the triage decision with particular attention to compliance with published recommendations were recorded.During the study period, 1,009 patients were and 283 were not admitted to the participating ICUs. Refused patients were more likely to be older than 65 yrs (odds ratio [OR], 3.53; confidence interval [CI], 1.98–5.32) and to have a poor chronic health status (OR, 3.09; CI, 2.05–4.67). An admission diagnosis of acute respiratory or renal failure, shock, or coma was associated with admission, whereas chronic severe respiratory and heart failure or metastatic disease without hope of remission were associated with refusal (OR, 2.24; CI, 1.38–3.64). Only four (range, 0–8) of the 20 recommendations for triage to ICU were observed; a full unit and triage over the phone were associated with significantly poorer compliance with recommendations (0 [0–2] vs. 6 [2–9], p = .0003; and 1 [0–6] vs. 6 [1–9], p < .0001; respectively).Recommendations for triage to intensive care are rarely observed, particularly when the unit is full or triage is done over the phone. These recommendations may need to be redesigned to improve their practicability under real-life conditions, with special attention to phone triage and triaging to a full unit.