Impact of intensive care unit discharge time on patient outcome

Fran A Priestap, Claudio M Martin
Critical Care Medicine 2006, 34 (12): 2946-51

OBJECTIVE: To determine the impact of nighttime intensive care unit (ICU) discharge on patient outcome.

DESIGN: Multiple-center, retrospective observational cohort study.

SETTING: Canadian hospitals.

PATIENTS: We used a prospectively collected dataset containing information on 79,090 consecutive admissions from 31 Canadian community and teaching hospitals.


MEASUREMENTS AND MAIN RESULTS: Patients were categorized according to the time of ICU discharge into daytime (07:00-20:59) and nighttime (21:00-06:59). Admissions were excluded if the patients were a) </=16 yrs of age (392); b) admitted following cardiac surgery (6,641); c) admitted following the initial admission for patients readmitted to the ICU within the same hospital stay (3,632); d) admitted due to a lack of available ward or specialty care beds (457); or c) transferred to another acute care facility (7,724). We found that 62,056 patients were discharged to the ward following the initial ICU admission. Of the 47,062 discharges eligible for analyses, 10.1% were discharged at night. The unadjusted odds of death for patients discharged from ICU at night was 1.35 (95% confidence interval, 1.23, 1.49), compared with patients discharged during the daytime. After adjustment for illness severity, source, case-mix, age, gender, and hospital size, the mortality risk was increased by 1.22-fold (95% confidence interval, 1.10, 1.36) for nighttime discharges. Multivariate regression analysis revealed that patients discharged from the ICU at night have a significantly shorter ICU length of stay than those discharged during the day (p < .001). Whereas hospital length of stay was similar for daytime and nighttime discharges who survived hospital stay, patients discharged at night who did not survive hospital stay had a significantly shorter hospital length of stay (p = .002).

CONCLUSIONS: Patients discharged from the ICU at night have an increased risk of mortality compared with those discharged during the day.

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