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Emerg Med J. 2019 Feb;36(2):82-87. doi: 10.1136/emermed-2018-208032. Epub 2018 Dec 5.

Prolonged length of stay in the emergency department and increased risk of hospital mortality in patients with sepsis requiring ICU admission.

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Department of Emergency Medicine, Sir Run Run Shaw Hospital, Zhejiang University School of Medicine, Hangzhou, China.
Department of Trauma/Burns/Critical Care, Stroger Hospital of Cook County, Rush Medical College, Chicago, Illinois, USA.
Department of Surgery, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, Virginia, USA.
Department of Internal Medicine, Mercer University School of Medicine, Macon, Georgia, USA.



Delayed patient admission to the intensive care unit (ICU) from the ED is common in China. Patients with severe sepsis or septic shock requiring ICU admission are in need of specialised monitoring and tailored treatment. Delayed admission to the ICU might be associated with adverse clinical outcomes for patients with sepsis.


Patients with sepsis admitted to the ICU from the ED from January 2010 to April 2018 were retrospectively identified from a clinical data warehouse. The primary endpoint was in-hospital mortality. Length of stay in ED (EDLOS) was compared between survivors and non-survivors. A multivariable regression model was employed to adjust for potential confounding due to patient clinical condition.


A total of 1997 patients, including 473 non-survivors and 1524 survivors, were included. The crude mortality rate for patients with EDLOS <6 hours was 21.4%, which was significantly lower than patients with EDLOS of 12-24 hours (31.9%), and those with EDLOS >24 hours (31.8%). After adjusting for PaO2/FiO2, serum creatinine, age, Sequential Organ Failure Assessment, body mass index, lactate, comorbidities and infection site, EDLOS continued to be independently associated with increased risk of hospital mortality. Compared with the group with EDLOS <6 hours, those with EDLOS between 12and24 hours (OR 1.82, 95% CI 1.28 to 2.58) and EDLOS >24 hours (OR 1.79, 95% CI 1.27 to 2.52) showed a significantly increased risk of death.


Our study shows that prolonged EDLOS is independently associated with increased risk of hospital mortality in patients with sepsis requiring ICU admission.


clinical care; crowding; emergency care systems

Conflict of interest statement

Competing interests: None declared.

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