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Utilization of Intensive Care Services

In 2011, 27% of hospitals stays included intensive care unit charges, and the ICU charges accounted for nearly half [48%] of total hospital charges. Critical care costs have been rising for years. Between 2002 and 2009, critical care stays grew 3 times faster than the rate of hospital stays and without any increase in illness severity. The reason for the greater ICU utilization is unclear, according to a new AHRQ report, but it’s likely to get more attention because of the costs involved.

The report is based on an analysis of adult ICU utilization in general medical and surgical hospitals in 29 states in 2011. Here are other highlights from the study:

  • Hospital stays involving ICU care were 2.5 times more costly than other hospital stays.
  • The highest rate of ICU use — over 93% — was for respiratory disease with ventilator support.
  • Cardiac, respiratory, and neurologic conditions dominated types of stays with high ICU use.
  • Major complications or co-morbidities were associated with greater use of ICUs.
  • Greater ICU use was correlated with larger hospitals, large urban areas, for-profit hospitals, teaching hospitals, and hospitals with level I or II trauma centers.

Source: Barret ML and others. Utilization of intensive care services, 2011. HCUP Statistical Brief [Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project], no. 185, Dec. 2014. http://www.hcup-us.ahrq.gov/reports/statbriefs/sb185-Hospital-Intensive-Care-Units-2011.pdf

Posted by AHA Resource Center (312) 422-2050, rc@aha.org

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