Send to

Choose Destination
Anesthesiology. 2005 Dec;103(6):1121-9.

Validity of unplanned admission to an intensive care unit as a measure of patient safety in surgical patients.

Author information

Department of Anesthesia and Perioperative Medicine, Alfred Hospital, Monash University, Commercial Road, Melbourne, Victoria 3004, Australia.



An unplanned admission to the intensive care unit within 24 h of a procedure (UIA) is a recommended clinical indicator in surgical patients. Often regarded as a surrogate marker of adverse events, it has potential as a direct measure of patient safety. Its true validity for such use is currently unknown.


The authors validated UIA as an indicator of safety in surgical patients in a prospective cohort study of 44,130 patients admitted to their hospital. They assessed the association of UIA with intraoperative incidents and near misses, increased hospital length of stay, and 30-day mortality as three constructs of patient safety.


The authors identified 201 patients with a UIA; 104 (52.2%) had at least one incident or near miss. After adjusting for confounders, these incidents were significantly associated with UIA in all categories of surgical procedures analyzed; odds ratios were 12.21 (95% confidence interval [CI], 6.33-23.58), 4.06 (95% CI, 2.74-6.03), and 2.13 (95% CI, 1.02-4.42), respectively. The 30-day mortality for patients with UIA was 10.9%, compared with 1.1% in non-UIA patients. After risk adjustment, UIA was associated with excess mortality in several types of surgical procedures (odds ratio, 3.89; 95% CI, 2.14-7.04). The median length of stay was increased if UIA occurred: 16 days (interquartile range, 10-31) versus 2 days (interquartile range, 0.5-9) (P < 0.001). For patients with a UIA, the likelihood of discharge from hospital was significantly decreased in most surgical categories analyzed, with adjusted hazard ratios of 0.41 (95% CI, 0.23-0.77) to 0.58 (95% CI, 0.37-0.93).


These findings provide strong support for the construct validity of UIA as a measure of patient safety.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Silverchair Information Systems
Loading ...
Support Center