Postoperative Complications and Outcomes Associated With a Transition to 24/7 Intensivist Management of Cardiac Surgery Patients

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Abstract

Objectives:

Nighttime intensivist staffing does not improve patient outcomes in general ICUs. Few studies have examined the association between dedicated in-house 24/7 intensivist coverage on outcomes in specialized cardiac surgical ICUs. We sought to evaluate the association between 24/7 in-house intensivist-only management of cardiac surgical patients on postoperative complications and health resource utilization.

Design:

Before-and-after propensity matched cohort study.

Setting:

Tertiary care cardiac surgical ICU.

Patients:

Patients greater than 18 years old who underwent cardiac surgery between January 1, 2006, and April 30, 2013 (nighttime resident model), were propensity-matched (1:1) to patients from August 1, 2013, to December 31, 2014 (24/7 in-house intensivist model).

Interventions:

Cardiac surgical ICU coverage change from a nighttime resident physician coverage model to a 24/7 in-house intensivist staffing model.

Measurements and Main Results:

The primary outcome of interest was a composite of postoperative major complications. Secondary outcomes included duration of mechanical ventilation, all-cause cardiac surgical ICU readmissions, and surgical postponements attributed to lack of cardiac surgical ICU bed availability. A total of 1,509 patients during the nighttime resident model were matched to 1,509 patients during the intensivist model. The adjusted risk of major complications (26.3% vs 19.3%; odds ratio, 0.73; 95% CI, 0.36–0.85; p < 0.01), mean mechanical ventilation time (25.2 vs 19.4 hr; p < 0.01), cardiac surgical ICU readmissions (5.3% vs 1.6%; odds ratio, 0.31; 95% CI, 0.19–0.48; p < 0.01), and surgical postponements (3.4 vs 0.3 per mo; p < 0.01) were lower with the intensivist model.

Conclusions:

A transition to a 24/7 in-house intensivist care model was associated with a reduction in postoperative major complications, duration of mechanical ventilation, cardiac surgical ICU readmissions, and surgical postponements. These findings suggest that 24/7 intensivist physician care models may improve patient outcomes and health resource utilization in specialized cardiac surgical ICUs.

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