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J Clin Med Res. 2013 Oct;5(5):343-9. doi: 10.4021/jocmr1501w. Epub 2013 Aug 5.

Factors influencing triage decisions in patients referred for ICU admission.

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1
Department of Medicine, New York University School of Medicine at Woodhull Medical and Mental Health Center, 760 Broadway, Brooklyn, NY 11206, USA.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Few data is available on triage of critically ill patients. Because the demand for ICU beds often exceeds their availability, frequently intensivists need to triage these patients in order to equally and efficiently distribute the available resources based on the concept of potential benefit and reasonable chance of recovery. The objective of this study is to evaluate factors influencing triage decisions among patients referred for ICU admission and to assess its impact in outcome.

METHODS:

A single-center, prospective, observational study of 165 consecutive triage evaluations was conducted in patients referred for ICU admission that were either accepted, or refused and treated on the medical or surgical wards as well as the step-down and telemetry units.

RESULTS:

Seventy-one patients (43.0%) were accepted for ICU admission. Mean Acute Physiology and Chronic Health Evaluation (APACHE)-II score was 15.3 (0 - 36) and 13.9 (0 - 30) for accepted and refused patients, respectively. Three patients (4.2%) had active advance directives on admission to ICU. Age, gender, and number of ICU beds available at the time of evaluation were not associated with triage decisions. Thirteen patients (18.3%) died in ICU, while the in-hospital mortality for refused patients was 12.8%.

CONCLUSION:

Refusal of admission to ICU is common, although patients in which ICU admission is granted have higher mortality. Presence of active advance directives seems to play an important role in the triage decision process. Further efforts are needed to define which patients are most likely to benefit from ICU admission. Triage protocols or guidelines to promote efficient critical care beds use are warranted.

KEYWORDS:

Critically ill; Emergency Department (ED); Intensive Care Unit (ICU); Post-Anesthesia Care Unit (PACU); Step-down unit; Triage

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