Developing and pilot testing quality indicators in the intensive care unit

J Crit Care. 2003 Sep;18(3):145-55. doi: 10.1016/j.jcrc.2003.08.003.


Purpose: To develop and implement a set of valid and reliable yet practical measures of intensive care units (ICU) quality of care in a cohort of ICUs and to estimate, based on current performance, the potential opportunity to improve quality.

Methods: We included 13 adult medical and surgical ICUs in urban community teaching and community hospitals. To monitor performance on previously identified quality measures, we developed 3 data collection tools: the Team Leader, Daily Rounding, and Infection Control forms. These tools were pilot tested, validated, and modified before implementation. We used published estimates of efficacy to estimate the clinical and economic effect of our current performance for each of the process measures: appropriate sedation, prevention of ventilator-associated pneumonia, appropriate peptic ulcer disease (PUD) prophylaxis, appropriate deep venous thrombosis (DVT) prophylaxis, and appropriate use of blood transfusions.

Results: Performance varied widely among the 13 ICUs and within ICUs. The median percentage of days in which ventilated patients received therapies that ought to was 64% for appropriate sedation, 67% for elevating head of bed, 89% for PUD prophylaxis, and 87% for DVT prophylaxis. The median rate of appropriate transfusion was 33%. The failure to use these therapies may lead to excess morbidity, mortality, and ICU length of stay.

Conclusion: To improve quality of care, we must measure our performance. This pilot study suggests that it is feasible to implement a broad set of ICU quality measures in a cohort of hospitals. By improving performance on these measures, we may realize reduced mortality, morbidity, and ICU length of stay.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Validation Study

MeSH terms

  • Cohort Studies
  • Critical Care / standards*
  • Data Collection / methods
  • Data Collection / standards
  • Focus Groups
  • Hospitals, Community
  • Hospitals, Teaching
  • Hospitals, Urban
  • Humans
  • Intensive Care Units / standards*
  • Outcome and Process Assessment, Health Care*
  • Pilot Projects
  • Quality Indicators, Health Care*
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Research Design