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Association between regional critical care capacity and the incidence of invasive mechanical ventilation for coronavirus disease 2019: a population-based cohort study.

BACKGROUND: Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) has exposed critical care supply shortages worldwide. This study aimed to investigate the association between regional critical care capacity and the incidence of invasive mechanical ventilation following novel COVID-19 during the pandemic in Japan, a country with a limited intensive care unit (ICU) bed capacity of a median of 5.1 ICU beds per 100,000 individuals.

METHODS: This population-based cohort study used data from the CRoss Icu Searchable Information System database and publicly available databases provided by the Japanese government and Japanese Society of Intensive Care Medicine. We identified patients recently diagnosed with COVID-19, those who received invasive mechanical ventilation, and those who received extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) between February 2020 and March 2023. We analyzed the association between regional critical care capacity (ICU beds, high-dependency care unit (HDU) beds, resource-rich ICU beds, and intensivists) and the incidence of invasive mechanical ventilation, ECMO, and risk-adjusted mortality across 47 Japanese prefectures.

RESULTS: Among the approximately 127 million individuals residing in Japan, 33,189,809 were recently diagnosed with COVID-19, with 12,203 and 1,426 COVID-19 patients on invasive mechanical ventilation and ECMO, respectively, during the study period. Prefecture-level linear regression analysis revealed that the addition of ICU beds, resource-rich ICU beds, and intensivists per 100,000 individuals increased the incidence of IMV by 5.37 (95% confidence interval, 1.99-8.76), 7.27 (1.61-12.9), and 13.12 (3.48-22.76), respectively. However, the number of HDU beds per 100,000 individuals was not statistically significantly associated with the incidence of invasive mechanical ventilation. None of the four indicators of regional critical care capacity was statistically significantly associated with the incidence of ECMO and risk-adjusted mortality.

CONCLUSIONS: The results of prefecture-level analyses demonstrate that increased numbers of ICU beds, resource-rich ICU beds, and intensivists are associated with the incidence of invasive mechanical ventilation among patients recently diagnosed with COVID-19 during the pandemic. These findings have important implications for healthcare policymakers, aiding in efficiently allocating critical care resources during crises, particularly in regions with limited ICU bed capacities. Registry and the registration no. of the study/trial The approval date of the registry was August 20, 2020, and the registration no. of the study was lUMIN000041450.

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