Emergency Department disposition decisions and associated mortality and costs in ICU patients with suspected infection
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BACKGROUND: Following emergency department (ED) assessment, patients with infection may be directly admitted to the intensive care unit (ICU) or alternatively admitted to hospital wards or sent home. Those admitted to the hospital wards or sent home may experience future deterioration necessitating ICU admission. METHODS: We used a prospectively collected registry from two hospitals within a single tertiary care hospital network between 2011 and 2014. Patient information, outcomes, and costs were stored in the hospital data warehouse. Patients were categorized into three groups: (1) admitted directly from the ED to the ICU; (2) initially admitted to the hospital wards, with ICU admission within 72 hours of initial presentation; or (3) sent home from the ED, with ICU admission within 72 hours of initial presentation. Using multivariable logistic regression, we sought to compare outcomes and total costs between groups. Total costs were evaluated using a generalized linear model. RESULTS: A total of 657 patients were included; of these, 338 (51.4%) were admitted directly from the ED to the ICU, 246 (37.4%) were initially admitted to the wards and then to the ICU, and 73 (11.1%) were initially sent home and then admitted to the ICU. In-hospital mortality was lowest among patients admitted directly to the ICU (29.5%), as compared with patients admitted to the ICU from wards (42.7%) or home (61.6%) (P < 0.001). As compared with direct ICU admission, disposition to the ward was associated with an adjusted OR of 1.75 (95% CI, 1.22-2.50; P < 0.01) for mortality, and disposition home was associated with an adjusted OR of 4.02 (95% CI, 2.32-6.98). Mean total costs were lowest among patients directly admitted to the ICU ($26,748), as compared with those admitted from the wards ($107,315) and those initially sent home ($71,492) (P < 0.001). Cost per survivor was lower among patients directly admitted to the ICU ($37,986) than either those initially admitted to the wards ($187,230) or those sent home ($186,390) (P < 0.001). CONCLUSIONS: In comparison with direct admission to the ICU, patients with suspected infection admitted to the ICU who have previously been discharged home or admitted to the ward are associated with higher in-hospital mortality and costs.
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