Comparing Observed and Predicted Mortality Among ICUs Using Different Prognostic Systems: Why Do Performance Assessments Differ?*


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Abstract

Objectives:To compare ICU performance using standardized mortality ratios generated by the Acute Physiology and Chronic Health Evaluation IVa and a National Quality Forum–endorsed methodology and examine potential reasons for model-based standardized mortality ratio differences.Design:Retrospective analysis of day 1 hospital mortality predictions at the ICU level using Acute Physiology and Chronic Health Evaluation IVa and National Quality Forum models on the same patient cohort.Setting:Forty-seven ICUs at 36 U.S. hospitals from January 2008 to May 2013.Patients:Eighty-nine thousand three hundred fifty-three consecutive unselected ICU admissions.Interventions:None.Measurements and Main Results:We assessed standardized mortality ratios for each ICU using data for patients eligible for Acute Physiology and Chronic Health Evaluation IVa and National Quality Forum predictions in order to compare unit-level model performance, differences in ICU rankings, and how case-mix adjustment might explain standardized mortality ratio differences. Hospital mortality was 11.5%. Overall standardized mortality ratio was 0.89 using Acute Physiology and Chronic Health Evaluation IVa and 1.07 using National Quality Forum, the latter having a widely dispersed and multimodal standardized mortality ratio distribution. Model exclusion criteria eliminated mortality predictions for 10.6% of patients for Acute Physiology and Chronic Health Evaluation IVa and 27.9% for National Quality Forum. The two models agreed on the significance and direction of standardized mortality ratio only 45% of the time. Four ICUs had standardized mortality ratios significantly less than 1.0 using Acute Physiology and Chronic Health Evaluation IVa, but significantly greater than 1.0 using National Quality Forum. Two ICUs had standardized mortality ratios exceeding 1.75 using National Quality Forum, but nonsignificant performance using Acute Physiology and Chronic Health Evaluation IVa. Stratification by patient and institutional characteristics indicated that units caring for more severely ill patients and those with a higher percentage of patients on mechanical ventilation had the most discordant standardized mortality ratios between the two predictive models.Conclusions:Acute Physiology and Chronic Health Evaluation IVa and National Quality Forum models yield different ICU performance assessments due to differences in case-mix adjustment. Given the growing role of outcomes in driving prospective payment patient referral and public reporting, performance should be assessed by models with fewer exclusions, superior accuracy, and better case-mix adjustment.

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