Object: The aim of this study was to evaluate the impact of a newly appointed neurointensivist on outcomes in head-injured patients in the neurological/neurosurgical intensive care unit (NICU).
Methods: The mortality rate, length of stay (LOS), and discharge disposition of all patients with head trauma who had been admitted to a 10-bed tertiary care university hospital NICU were compared between two 19-month periods, before and after the appointment of a neurointensivist. Data regarding these patients were collected using the hospital database and the University HealthSystem Consortium (UHC) database. Samples of medical records were reviewed for Glasgow Coma Scale (GCS) score documentation. The authors analyzed data pertaining to 328 patients before and 264 after the neurointensivist's appointment. The unadjusted mean in-hospital mortality rate increased 1.1% in the after period, but this increase was significantly lower compared with the UHC-based expected increase of 8.1% in the mortality rate during the same period (p < 0.0001). The unadjusted mean mortality rate in the NICU decreased from 13.4 to 12.9% (relative mortality rate reduction 4%) and the mean NICU LOS increased from 3.1 to 3.6 days (relative NICU LOS increase 16%), both nonsignificantly. A 51% reduction in the NICU-associated mortality rate (p = 0.01), a 12% shorter hospital LOS (p = 0.026), and 57% greater odds of being discharged to home or to rehabilitation (p = 0.009) were found in the after period in multivariate models after controlling for baseline differences between the two time periods. Better documentation of the GCS score by the NICU team was also found in the after period (from 60.4 to 82%, p = 0.02).
Conclusions: The institution of a neurointensivist-led team model had an independent, positive impact on patient outcomes, including a lower NICU-associated mortality rate and hospital LOS, improved disposition, and better chart documentation.