Aims: The aim of a critical care outreach team is to facilitate discharges from critical care beds, educate ward staff in the management of deteriorating patients, facilitate transfer to critical care and reduce readmission rates to critical care. Although intuitively a good idea, there are few data to support outreach in terms of reducing the readmission rate to critical care and subsequent patient mortality. This retrospective observational study attempted to determine the change in the critical care readmission rate, an indicator of the quality of critical care, critical care mortality and in-hospital mortality following the introduction of a critical care outreach team in a major teaching hospital.
Methods: A retrospective review of 1380 discharges from critical care was undertaken and the readmissions identified (n = 176). Readmission rate, mortality and other demographic data were compared between the pre and post-outreach periods.
Results: Critical care mortality, in-hospital mortality and 30-day mortality were all reduced in the post-outreach period amongst readmissions to critical care. There was also a decease in the overall mortality of all patients admitted to critical care. There were no apparent causative factors for this reduction in mortality before and following outreach.
Conclusions: There are many confounding factors in assessing the impact of outreach teams in hospitals. This study tentatively concludes that outreach teams may have a favourable impact on mortality rate amongst readmissions to critical care, but more data is needed from multicentre trials.