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Am J Respir Crit Care Med. 2008 Feb 1;177(3):285-91. Epub 2007 Nov 15.

Potential value of regionalized intensive care for mechanically ventilated medical patients.

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  • 1Division of Pulmonary, Allergy, and Critical Care, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, 723 Blockley Hall, 423 Guardian Drive, Philadelphia, PA 19104, USA.



Regionalization has been proposed as a method to improve outcomes for medical patients receiving mechanical ventilation in the intensive care unit.


To determine the number of patients who would be affected by regionalization and the potential mortality reduction under a regionalized system of care.


We performed a retrospective cohort study with Monte Carlo simulation, using 2001 state discharge data from eight states representing 42% of the U.S. population. Adult medical patients undergoing invasive mechanical ventilation were identified. Patient location and hospital mortality rates were obtained from the discharge data; estimates of the relative risk reduction in hospital mortality for high-volume hospitals compared with low-volume hospitals were obtained from the published literature and applied to the cohort.


Of 180,976 adult medical patients who underwent mechanical ventilation at 1,170 nonfederal hospitals, 83,050 (46%) received mechanical ventilation at 887 (76%) hospitals with low annual volumes (fewer than 275 patients per year). Using published risk estimates, approximately 4,720 lives per year (95% range, 2,522-6,744) could potentially be saved in the 8 states by routinely transferring patients from low- to high-volume hospitals, representing a number needed to treat of 15.7. The median distance that patients would need to travel to reach a high-volume hospital was 8.5 miles (interquartile range, 4.0-21.2 mi).


Regionalization of intensive care could potentially improve survival for patients undergoing mechanical ventilation. Transfer distances are modest for most patients.

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