Send to

Choose Destination
Am J Respir Crit Care Med. 2012 May 15;185(10):1081-7. doi: 10.1164/rccm.201104-0729OC. Epub 2012 Feb 16.

Refusal of intensive care unit admission due to a full unit: impact on mortality.

Author information

Service de Réanimation Médicale, Hopital Jean Bernard, CHU Poitiers, 86021 Poitiers Cedex France.



Intensive care unit (ICU) beds are a scarce resource, and patients denied intensive care only because the unit is full may be at increased risk of death.


To compare mortality after first ICU referral in admitted patients and in patients denied admission because the unit was full.


Prospective observational multicenter cohort study of consecutive patients referred for ICU admission during two 45-day periods, conducted in 10 ICUs.


Of 1,762 patients, 430 were excluded from the study, 116 with previously denied admission to another ICU and 270 because they were deemed too sick or too well to benefit from ICU admission. Of the remaining 1,332 patients, 1,139 were admitted, and 193 were denied admission because the unit was full (65 were never admitted, 39 were admitted after bumping of another patient, and 89 were admitted on subsequent referral). Crude Day 28 and Day 60 mortality rates in the nonadmitted and admitted groups were 30.1 versus 24.3% (P = 0.07) and 33.3 versus 27.2% (P = 0.06), respectively. Day 28 mortality adjusted on age, previous disease, Glasgow scale score less than or equal to 8, shock, creatinine level greater than or equal to 250 μmol/L, and prothrombin time greater than or equal to 30 seconds was nonsignificantly higher in patients refused ICU admission only because of a full unit compared with patients admitted immediately. Patients admitted after subsequent referral had higher mortality rates on Day 28 (P = 0.05) and Day 60 (P = 0.04) compared with directly admitted patients.


Delayed ICU admission due to a full unit at first referral is associated with increased mortality.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Atypon
Loading ...
Support Center