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J Trauma. 1991 Jul;31(7):915-8; discussion 918-9.

Elective intrahospital admissions versus acute interhospital transfers to a surgical intensive care unit: cost and outcome prediction.

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Department of Surgery, New England Deaconess Hospital, Boston, MA 02215.


After a decade of intense fiscal scrutiny, appropriate utilization of intensive care resources remains controversial. In particular, the financial impact of patients transferred to a tertiary surgical intensive care unit (SICU) from a community hospital (interhospital) is unknown, especially when compared with elective (intrahospital) SICU admissions admitted from the tertiary center itself. We prospectively studied outcome and costs in 82 consecutive tertiary SICU admissions. Half were transferred acutely from community hospitals and half were transferred from within the hospital or postoperatively. Severity of illness (APACHE II) was scored on day 1, at the same time of the day (9:00-10:00 AM) and by one attending surgeon (BCB). Acute transfer patients had a significantly elevated mortality (36%) when compared with elective admissions (12%) (p less than 0.05). When stratified by APACHE II score, acute transfers had twice the mortality for equivalent APACHE II scores (p less than 0.05). Acute transfer patients with APACHE II scores greater than 19 had an 89% mortality; those nonsurvivors cost $128,652 each. From these results we conclude the following: (1) Acute transfer patients have a significantly elevated mortality when compared with elective intrahospital admissions with equivalent APACHE II day-1 scores; (2) patients transferred acutely to tertiary SICUs are significantly more costly, irrespective of outcome; (3) admission source (elective vs. acute transfer) should be seriously considered when evaluating patient outcome and cost in a SICU.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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