Purpose: The boarding of critically ill patients in the emergency department (ED) could reduce quality of care and increase mortality. An ED intensive care unit (ICU) was set up in a 3715-bed medical center to facilitate timely delivery of critical care. This study reports comparative outcomes of EDICU patients with specialty ICU patients. Materials and methods: Medical records of adult nontrauma ED patients admitted to nonsurgical ICUs (EDICU, medical, cardiac, alimentary, and neurological units) between January 2007 and July 2011 were retrospectively reviewed. The respective number of admissions, bed turnover rate, and length of stay were compared. Cox regression models were also applied to compare inhospital mortality risks among these patients. Results: With only 13% (14/108) of all ICU beds, EDICU admitted 36% (3711/10. 449) of patients. Emergency department ICU patients had an unfavorable adjusted hazard ratio for inhospital mortality compared with medical ICU and cardiac ICU patients, but after excluding patients with an ICU length of stay of 2. days or less, the difference in hazard ratio became nonsignificant. Conclusions: Emergency department ICU has admitted a disproportionately higher proportion of patients without sacrificing quality of care. Specialty care could be secured through direct communication between EDICU and specialty physicians and forming close collaboration between departments and ICUs.
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