Pediatric intermediate care and pediatric intensive care units: PICU metrics and an analysis of patients that use both

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Purpose:To examine how intermediate care units (IMCUs) are used in relation to pediatric intensive care units (PICUs), characterize PICU patients that utilize IMCUs, and estimate the impact of IMCUs on PICU metrics.Materials & methods:Retrospective study of PICU patients discharged from 108 hospitals from 2009 to 2011. Patients admitted from or discharged to IMCUs were characterized. We explored the relationships between having an IMCU and several PICU metrics: physical length-of-stay (LOS), medical LOS, discharge wait time, admission severity of illness, unplanned PICU admissions from wards, and early PICU readmissions.Results:Thirty-three percent of sites had an IMCU. After adjusting for known confounders, there was no association between having an IMCU and PICU LOS, mean severity of illness of PICU patients admitted from general wards, or proportion of PICU readmissions or unplanned ward admissions. At sites with an IMCU, patients waited 3.1 h longer for transfer from the PICU once medically cleared (p < 0.001).Conclusions:There was no association between having an IMCU and most measures of PICU efficiency. At hospitals with an IMCU, patients spent more time in the PICU once they were cleared for discharge. Other ways that IMCUs might affect PICU efficiency or particular patient populations should be investigated.HIGHLIGHTSStudy of PICU patients at hospitals with versus without intermediate care unitsPICU efficiency metrics similar at both types of hospitalsWait time to PICU discharge longer at hospitals with intermediate care units

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