The admission and case fatality rate (CFR) on a large urban medical service for 12 months before and after the creation of an intermediate care unit were examined. In the year after the intermediate care unit was opened, total admissions to the ICU/CCU decreased by 7.1% as a result of a 14.6% decrease in admission of low-risk patients who did not require critical care services. The CFR of patients on the medical service decreased by 13.3% in the year after implementation of the intermediate care unit. The decrease in mortality was accounted for by a 25.0% decrease in general ward deaths and a 38.8% decrease in ward cardiac arrests. There was no significant difference in the ICU/CCU CFR. The admission of low-risk patients to an intermediate care unit provided greater access to intensive care and was associated with an overall lower medical service CFR.