Hospital volume and the outcomes of mechanical ventilation

N Engl J Med. 2006 Jul 6;355(1):41-50. doi: 10.1056/NEJMsa053993.


Background: An increased volume of patients is associated with improved survival in numerous high-risk medical and surgical conditions. The relationship between the number of patients admitted (hospital volume) and outcome among patients with critical illnesses is unknown.

Methods: We analyzed data from 20,241 nonsurgical patients receiving mechanical ventilation at 37 acute care hospitals in the Acute Physiology and Chronic Health Evaluation clinical information system from 2002 through 2003. Multivariate analyses were performed to adjust for the severity of illness and other differences in the case mix.

Results: An increase in hospital volume was associated with improved survival among patients receiving mechanical ventilation in the intensive care unit (ICU) and in the hospital. Admission to a hospital in the highest quartile according to volume (i.e., >400 patients receiving mechanical ventilation per year) was associated with a 37 percent reduction in the adjusted odds of death in the ICU as compared with admission to hospitals in the lowest quartile (< or =150 patients receiving mechanical ventilation per year, P<0.001). In-hospital mortality was similarly reduced (adjusted odds ratio, 0.66; 95 percent confidence interval, 0.52 to 0.83; P<0.001). A typical patient in a hospital in a low-volume quartile would have an adjusted in-hospital mortality of 34.2 percent as compared with 25.5 percent in a hospital in a high-volume quartile. Among survivors, there were no significant trends in the length of stay in the ICU or the hospital.

Conclusions: Mechanical ventilation of patients in a hospital with a high case volume is associated with reduced mortality. Further research is needed to determine the mechanism of the relationship between volume and outcome among patients with a critical illness.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Databases, Factual
  • Female
  • Hospital Mortality*
  • Hospitals / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Intensive Care Units
  • Length of Stay
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Respiration, Artificial*
  • Survivors / statistics & numerical data
  • United States