Objective: Patients often overstay in intensive care units (ICU) after they are deemed discharge ready. The objective of this study was to examine the impact of such discharge delays (DD) on subsequent in-hospital morbidity and mortality.
Design: Retrospective cohort study.
Setting: Single tertiary academic medical center.
Patients: Adult patients admitted to the medical ICU between 2005 and 2011.
Interventions: For all patients, DD (ie, time between request for a ward bed and time of ICU discharge) was calculated. Discharge delays was dichotomized as long (≥24 hours) or short (<24 hours). Multivariable linear and logistic regressions were used to assess the association between dichotomized DD and post-ICU clinical outcomes.
Results: Overall, 9673 discharges were included of which 10.4% patients had long DDs. In the fully adjusted model, a long delay was not associated with increased odds of death (adjusted odds ratio [aOR]: 0.99, 95% confidence interval [CI]: 0.74-1.31, P = .95) but was associated with a shorter log plus one of post-ICU discharge length of stay (LOS; regression coefficient: -0.13, 95% CI: -0.17 to -0.08, P < .001). Longer DD was not associated with more hospital-free days (HFD: a composite of post-ICU LOS and in-hospital mortality). Shorter DDs were associated with shorter LOS when LOS was measured from the time of ward bed request as opposed to the time of ICU discharge.
Conclusions: In this study, long DD was associated with a slight decrease in post-ICU LOS but longer LOS when measured from the point of ward bed request, suggesting a potential role for more aggressive discharge planning in the ICU for patients with long DDs. There was no association between long DD and subsequent mortality or HFD.
Keywords: ICU administration; critical care utilization; delay; discharge delay; intensive care unit discharge; workflow.
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