Hospitalizing clinically stable patients in critical care settings results in unnecessary healthcare costs and thwarts timely patient throughput. Some pediatric hospitals care for their stable ventilator-dependent children outside of pediatric intensive care units (PICUs). To date, no analysis of the costs of these pediatric ventilator units compared to PICUs has been performed. We conducted a retrospective comparison of PICU and ventilator ward costs of hospitalizations for 103 admissions in which ventilator-dependent children served as their own matched controls between 2004 and 2007. For included admissions, patients were hospitalized in both units during the same admission and spent more than 1 day in their initial unit. Comparisons of costs were made using the last full PICU day and first full ward day. For the study period, the mean PICU cost of hospitalization per day was $3,565 (standard deviation [SD] ± 716.50). The mean ward cost was $2,052 (SD ± 617). The mean PICU cost was significantly larger than the mean ward cost (paired t-test, P < 0.0001). Ventilator ward total and variable costs were significantly less than those in the PICU, and such units represent a potential cost saving measure for hospitals that care for ventilator-dependent children.
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