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Intensive Care Med. 2010 Jan;36(1):137-42. doi: 10.1007/s00134-009-1658-2. Epub 2009 Sep 26.

Patients' characterization, hospital course and clinical outcomes in five Italian respiratory intensive care units.

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Respiratory Department, FSM, Lumezzane, Italy.



Respiratory intensive care units (RICU) dedicated to weaning could be suitable facilities for clinical management of "post-ICU" patients.


We retrospectively analyzed the time course of patients' characteristics, clinical outcomes and medical staff utilization in five Italian RICUs by comparing three periods of 5 consecutive years (from 1991 to 2005).


A total of 3,106 patients (age 76 +/- 4 years; 72% males) were analyzed. The number of co-morbidities per patient (from 1.8 to 3.0, p = 0.05) and the previous intensive care unit (ICU) stay (from 25 to 32 days, p = 0.002) increased over time. The doctor-to-patient ratio significantly decreased over time (from 1:3 to 1:5, p < 0.01), whereas the physiotherapist-to-patient ratio mildly increased (from 1:6 to 1:4.5, p < 0.05). The overall weaning success rate decreased (from 87 to 66%, p < 0.001), and the discharge destination changed (p < 0.001) over time; fewer patients were discharged to home (from 22 to 10%), and more patients to nursing home (from 3 to 6%), acute hospitals (from 6 to 10%) and rehabilitative units (from 70 to 75%). The mortality rate increased over time (from 9 to 15%). Significant correlations between the doctor-to-patient ratio and the rates of weaning success (r = 0.679, p = 0.005), home discharge (r = 0.722, p = 0.002) and the RICU length of stay (LOS) (r = -0.683, p = 0.005) were observed.


The clinical outcomes of our units worsened over 15 years, likely as consequence of admitting more severely ill patients. The potential further negative influence of reduced medical staff availability on weaning success, home discharge and LOS warrants future prospective investigations.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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