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Med Klin Intensivmed Notfmed. 2016 May;111(4):310-6. doi: 10.1007/s00063-015-0070-7. Epub 2015 Sep 4.

[Inadequate ICU-admissions : A 12-month prospective cohort study at a German University Hospital].

[Article in German]

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Klinik für Intensivmedizin, Universitätsklinikum Hamburg-Eppendorf, Martinistr. 52, 20246, Hamburg, Deutschland.
Klinik für Intensivmedizin, Universitätsklinikum Hamburg-Eppendorf, Martinistr. 52, 20246, Hamburg, Deutschland.



Intensive care medicine (ICM) is increasingly utilized by a growing number of critically ill patients worldwide. The reasons for this are an increasingly ageing and multimorbid population and technological improvements in ICM. Inappropriate patient admissions to the intensive care unit (ICU) can be a threat to rational resource allocation and to patient autonomy.


In this study, the incidence, characteristics, and resource utilization of patients inappropriately admitted to ICUs are studied.


This prospective study included all consecutive patients admitted from 01 September 2012 to 31 August 2013 to the Department of Intensive Care Medicine of a German university hospital comprised of 10 ICUs and 120 beds. Inappropriate admission was defined according to category 4B of the recommendations of the Society of Critical Care Medicine (SCCM; "futility of ICU treatment" or "ICU declined by patient") and was determined in each suspected case by structured group discussions between the study team and all involved care givers including the referring team.


In all, 66 of 6452 ICU admissions (1 %) were suspected to have been inappropriate on retrospective evaluation the day after admission. In 50 patients (0.8 %), an interdisciplinary consensus was reached on the inappropriateness of the ICU admission. Of these 50 patients, 41 (82 %) had previously declined ICU treatment in principle. This information was based on the patient's presumed wish as expressed by next of kin (56 %) or in a written advanced directive (26 %). In 9 patients (18 %), ICU treatment was considered futile. In all cases, a lack of information regarding a patient's wishes or clinical prognosis was the reason for inappropriate ICU admission.


In this study, patients were regularly admitted to the ICU despite their contrary wish/directive or an unfavorable clinical condition. Although this was registered in only 1 % of all admissions, optimizing preICU admission information flow with regard to relevant exclusion criteria not only helps respect patient autonomy but also allows for more adequate resource allocation.


Critical Illness; Health resources; Healthcare economics and organizations; Intensive care; Living wills

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