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Intensive care unit (ICU) patients were randomly assigned to either a traditional ICU or a special care unit (SCU) for chronically critically ill patients. The SCU used a low-technology, family-oriented environment, nursing case management, no physician house staff, and a shared governance model. In comparison, the ICU used high technology, limited family visiting, primary care nursing, and a bureaucratic management model. The survival experience of chronically critically ill patients in the two environments during hospitalization, as well as after hospital discharge, was examined. Using survival analytic techniques, the 1-year cumulative mortality for all patients in the study was found to be 59.9%. Risk of death was significantly lower after discharge than during hospitalization. Similar mortality experiences were found for SCU and ICU patients. Thus, the high-technology ICU environment did not produce better outcomes than the SCU environment.