Exploring Acuity-Adaptable Care in a Rural Hospital

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The objective of this study is to assess benefits of the acuity-adaptable (AA) care model in rural hospitals.


The AA model aims to provide care in the same space from admission to discharge regardless of acuity. Evidence is lacking to support claims that AA care will improve patient safety, increase nurse productivity, and improve patient/staff satisfaction in rural hospitals.


Patients admitted to a rural intensive care unit (ICU) were allocated to an AA group or an ICU group. Patients in the AA group remained in the ICU room through discharge. Patients in the ICU group transferred out of ICU when acuity permitted. Patient anxiety, depression, and perception of emotional care were measured. Staff responses were assessed qualitatively.


Acuity-adaptable patients reported significantly more anxiety and less perceived emotional care than ICU patients. Intensive care unit nurses resisted caring for less acute patients.


Disadvantages may outweigh benefits of AA care delivery in the rural ICU.

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