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Intensive care unit mortality and cost-effectiveness associated with intensivist staffing: a Japanese nationwide observational study.

BACKGROUND: Japan has four types of intensive care units (ICUs) that are divided into two categories according to the management fee charged per day: ICU management fees 1 and 2 (ICU1/2) (equivalent to high-intensity staffing) and 3 and 4 (ICU3/4) (equivalent to low-intensity staffing). Although ICU1/2 charges a higher rate than ICU3/4, no cost-effectiveness analysis has been performed for ICU1/2. This study evaluated the clinical outcomes and cost-effectiveness of ICU1/2 compared with those of ICU3/4.

METHODS: This retrospective observational study used a nationwide Japanese administrative database to identify patients admitted to ICUs between April 2020 and March 2021 and divided them into the ICU1/2 and ICU3/4 groups. The ICU mortality rates and in-hospital mortality rates were determined, and the incremental cost-effectiveness ratio (ICER) (Japanese Yen (JPY)/QALY), defined as the difference between quality-adjusted life year (QALY) and medical costs, was compared between ICU1/2 and ICU3/4. Data analysis was performed using the Chi-squared test; an ICER of < 5 million JPY/QALY was considered cost-effective.

RESULTS: The ICU1/2 group (n = 71,412; 60.7%) had lower ICU mortality rates (ICU 1/2: 2.6% vs. ICU 3/4: 4.3%, p < 0.001) and lower in-hospital mortality rates (ICU 1/2: 6.1% vs. ICU 3/4: 8.9%, p < 0.001) than the ICU3/4 group (n = 46,330; 39.3%). The average cost per patient of ICU1/2 and ICU3/4 was 2,249,270 ± 1,955,953 JPY and 1,682,546 ± 1,588,928 JPY, respectively, with a difference of 566,724. The ICER was 718,659 JPY/QALY, which was below the cost-effectiveness threshold.

CONCLUSIONS: ICU1/2 is associated with lower ICU patient mortality than ICU3/4. Treatments under ICU1/2 are more cost-effective than those under ICU3/4, with an ICER of < 5 million JPY/QALY.

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