Patterns of utilization and effects of hospital-specific factors on physical, occupational, and speech therapy for critically ill patients with acute respiratory failure in the USA: results of a 5-year sample

Crit Care. 2019 May 16;23(1):175. doi: 10.1186/s13054-019-2467-9.


Background: Timely initiation of physical, occupational, and speech therapy in critically ill patients is crucial to reduce morbidity and improve outcomes. Over a 5-year time interval, we sought to determine the utilization of these rehabilitation therapies in the USA.

Methods: We performed a retrospective cohort study utilizing a large, national administrative database including ICU patients from 591 hospitals. Patients over 18 years of age with acute respiratory failure requiring invasive mechanical ventilation within the first 2 days of hospitalization and for a duration of at least 48 h were included.

Results: A total of 264,137 patients received invasive mechanical ventilation for a median of 4.0 [2.0-8.0] days. Overall, patients spent a median of 5.0 [3.0-10.0] days in the ICU and 10.0 [7.0-16.0] days in the hospital. During their hospitalization, 66.5%, 41.0%, and 33.2% (95% CI = 66.3-66.7%, 40.8-41.2%, 33.0-33.4%, respectively) received physical, occupational, and speech therapy. While on mechanical ventilation, 36.2%, 29.7%, and 29.9% (95% CI = 36.0-36.4%, 29.5-29.9%, 29.7-30.1%) received physical, occupational, and speech therapy. In patients receiving therapy, their first physical therapy session occurred on hospital day 5 [3.0-8.0] and hospital day 6 [4.0-10.0] for occupational and speech therapy. Of all patients, 28.6% (95% CI = 28.4-28.8%) did not receive physical, occupational, or speech therapy during their hospitalization. In a multivariate analysis, patients cared for in the Midwest and at teaching hospitals were more likely to receive physical, occupational, and speech therapy (all P < 0.05). Of patients with identical covariates receiving therapy, there was a median of 61%, 187%, and 70% greater odds of receiving physical, occupational, and speech therapy, respectively, at one randomly selected hospital compared with another (median odds ratio 1.61, 2.87, 1.70, respectively).

Conclusions: Physical, occupational, and speech therapy are not routinely delivered to critically ill patients, particularly while on mechanical ventilation in the USA. The utilization of these therapies varies according to insurance coverage, geography, and hospital teaching status, and at a hospital level.

Keywords: Acute respiratory failure; Early rehabilitation; Intensive care outcomes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Bayes Theorem
  • Cohort Studies
  • Critical Illness / epidemiology
  • Critical Illness / therapy
  • Databases, Factual / statistics & numerical data
  • Female
  • Hospitalization / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Occupational Therapy / statistics & numerical data*
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care / statistics & numerical data*
  • Physical Therapy Modalities / statistics & numerical data*
  • Respiratory Insufficiency / complications
  • Respiratory Insufficiency / epidemiology
  • Respiratory Insufficiency / therapy*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Speech Therapy / statistics & numerical data*
  • United States