Introduction: This study examined the potential effects of time to tracheostomy on mechanical ventilation duration, intensive care unit (ICU), and hospital length of stay (LOS), and ICU and hospital mortality.
Methods: Cohort observational study was conducted in a tertiary care medical-surgical ICU based on a prospectively collected ICU database. We included 531 consecutive patients who were admitted between March 1999 and February 2005, and underwent tracheostomy during their ICU stay. The effect of time to tracheostomy on the different outcomes assessed was estimated using multivariate regression analyses (linear or logistic, based on the type of variables). Other independent variables that were included in the analyses included selected admission characteristics.
Results: Mean +/- SD was 12.0 +/- 7.3 days for time to tracheostomy, and 23.1 +/- 18.9 days for ICU LOS. Time to tracheostomy was associated with an increased duration of mechanical ventilation (beta-coefficient = 1.31 for each day; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.14-1.48), ICU LOS (beta-coefficient = 1.31 for each day; 95% CI, 1.13-1.48), and hospital LOS (beta-coefficient = 1.80 for each day; 95% CI, 0.65-2.94). On the other hand, time to tracheostomy was not associated with increased ICU or hospital mortality.
Conclusions: Time to tracheostomy was independently associated with increased mechanical ventilation duration, ICU LOS, and hospital LOS, but was not associated with increased mortality. Performing tracheostomy earlier in the course of ICU stay may have an effect on ICU resources and could entail significant cost-savings without adversely affecting patient mortality.