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1.  Circulating Mitochondrial DNA in Patients in the ICU as a Marker of Mortality: Derivation and Validation 
PLoS Medicine  2013;10(12):e1001577.
In this paper, Choi and colleagues analyzed levels of mitochondrial DNA in two prospective observational cohort studies and found that increased mtDNA levels are associated with ICU mortality, and improve risk prediction in medical ICU patients. The data suggests that mtDNA could serve as a viable plasma biomarker in MICU patients.
Mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) is a critical activator of inflammation and the innate immune system. However, mtDNA level has not been tested for its role as a biomarker in the intensive care unit (ICU). We hypothesized that circulating cell-free mtDNA levels would be associated with mortality and improve risk prediction in ICU patients.
Methods and Findings
Analyses of mtDNA levels were performed on blood samples obtained from two prospective observational cohort studies of ICU patients (the Brigham and Women's Hospital Registry of Critical Illness [BWH RoCI, n = 200] and Molecular Epidemiology of Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome [ME ARDS, n = 243]). mtDNA levels in plasma were assessed by measuring the copy number of the NADH dehydrogenase 1 gene using quantitative real-time PCR. Medical ICU patients with an elevated mtDNA level (≥3,200 copies/µl plasma) had increased odds of dying within 28 d of ICU admission in both the BWH RoCI (odds ratio [OR] 7.5, 95% CI 3.6–15.8, p = 1×10−7) and ME ARDS (OR 8.4, 95% CI 2.9–24.2, p = 9×10−5) cohorts, while no evidence for association was noted in non-medical ICU patients. The addition of an elevated mtDNA level improved the net reclassification index (NRI) of 28-d mortality among medical ICU patients when added to clinical models in both the BWH RoCI (NRI 79%, standard error 14%, p<1×10−4) and ME ARDS (NRI 55%, standard error 20%, p = 0.007) cohorts. In the BWH RoCI cohort, those with an elevated mtDNA level had an increased risk of death, even in analyses limited to patients with sepsis or acute respiratory distress syndrome. Study limitations include the lack of data elucidating the concise pathological roles of mtDNA in the patients, and the limited numbers of measurements for some of biomarkers.
Increased mtDNA levels are associated with ICU mortality, and inclusion of mtDNA level improves risk prediction in medical ICU patients. Our data suggest that mtDNA could serve as a viable plasma biomarker in medical ICU patients.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Intensive care units (ICUs, also known as critical care units) are specialist hospital wards that provide care for people with life-threatening injuries and illnesses. In the US alone, more than 5 million people are admitted to ICUs every year. Different types of ICUs treat different types of problems. Medical ICUs treat patients who, for example, have been poisoned or who have a serious infection such as sepsis (blood poisoning) or severe pneumonia (inflammation of the lungs); trauma ICUs treat patients who have sustained a major injury; cardiac ICUs treat patients who have heart problems; and surgical ICUs treat complications arising from operations. Patients admitted to ICUs require constant medical attention and support from a team of specially trained nurses and physicians to prevent organ injury and to keep their bodies functioning. Monitors, intravenous tubes (to supply essential fluids, nutrients, and drugs), breathing machines, catheters (to drain urine), and other equipment also help to keep ICU patients alive.
Why Was This Study Done?
Although many patients admitted to ICUs recover, others do not. ICU specialists use scoring systems (algorithms) based on clinical signs and physiological measurements to predict their patients' likely outcomes. For example, the APACHE II scoring system uses information on heart and breathing rates, temperature, levels of salts in the blood, and other signs and physiological measurements collected during the first 24 hours in the ICU to predict the patient's risk of death. Existing scoring systems are not perfect, however, and “biomarkers” (molecules in bodily fluids that provide information about a disease state) are needed to improve risk prediction for ICU patients. Here, the researchers investigate whether levels of circulating cell-free mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) are associated with ICU deaths and whether these levels can be used as a biomarker to improve risk prediction in ICU patients. Mitochondria are cellular structures that produce energy. Levels of mtDNA in the plasma (the liquid part of blood) increase in response to trauma and infection. Moreover, mtDNA activates molecular processes that lead to inflammation and organ injury.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers measured mtDNA levels in the plasma of patients enrolled in two prospective observational cohort studies that monitored the outcomes of ICU patients. In the Brigham and Women's Hospital Registry of Critical Illness study, blood was taken from 200 patients within 24 hours of admission into the hospital's medical ICU. In the Molecular Epidemiology of Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome study (acute respiratory distress syndrome is a life-threatening inflammatory reaction to lung damage or infection), blood was taken from 243 patients within 48 hours of admission into medical and non-medical ICUs at two other US hospitals. Patients admitted to medical ICUs with a raised mtDNA level (3,200 or more copies of a specific mitochondrial gene per microliter of plasma) had a 7- to 8-fold increased risk of dying within 28 days of admission compared to patients with mtDNA levels of less than 3,200 copies/µl plasma. There was no evidence of an association between raised mtDNA levels and death among patients admitted to non-medical ICUs. The addition of an elevated mtDNA level to a clinical model for risk prediction that included the APACHE II score and biomarkers that are already used to predict ICU outcomes improved the net reclassification index (an indicator of the improvement in risk prediction algorithms offered by new biomarkers) of 28-day mortality among medical ICU patients in both studies.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings indicate that raised mtDNA plasma levels are associated with death in medical ICUs and show that, among patients in medical ICUs, measurement of mtDNA plasma levels can improve the prediction of the risk of death from the APACHE II scoring system, even when commonly measured biomarkers are taken into account. These findings do not indicate whether circulating cell-free mtDNA increased because of the underlying severity of illness or whether mtDNA actively contributes to the disease process in medical ICU patients. Moreover, they do not provide any evidence that raised mtDNA levels are associated with an increased risk of death among non-medical (mainly surgical) ICU patients. These findings need to be confirmed in additional patients, but given the relative ease and rapidity of mtDNA measurement, the determination of circulating cell-free mtDNA levels could be a valuable addition to the assessment of patients admitted to medical ICUs.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at
The UK National Health Service Choices website provides information about intensive care
The Society of Critical Care Medicine provides information for professionals, families, and patients about all aspects of intensive care
MedlinePlus provides links to other resources about intensive care (in English and Spanish)
The UK charity ICUsteps supports patients and their families through recovery from critical illness; its booklet Intensive Care: A Guide for Patients and Families is available in English and ten other languages; its website includes patient experiences and relative experiences of treatment in ICUs
Wikipedia has a page on ICU scoring systems (note that Wikipedia is a free online encyclopedia that anyone can edit; available in several languages)
PMCID: PMC3876981  PMID: 24391478
2.  Patients' recollections of experiences in the intensive care unit may affect their quality of life 
Critical Care  2005;9(2):R96-R109.
We wished to obtain the experiences felt by patients during their ICU stay using an original questionnaire and to correlate the memories of those experiences with health-related quality of life (HR-QOL).
We conducted a prospective study in 10 Portuguese intensive care units (ICUs). Six months after ICU discharge, an original questionnaire on experiences of patients during their ICU stay, the recollection questionnaire, was delivered. HR-QOL was evaluated simultaneously, with the EQ-5D questionnaire. Between 1 September 2002 and 31 March 2003 1433 adult patients were admitted. ICU and hospital mortalities were 21% and 28%, respectively. Six months after ICU discharge, 464 patients completed the recollection questionnaire.
Thirty-eight percent of the patients stated they did not remember any moment of their ICU stay. The ICU environment was described as friendly and calm by 93% of the patients. Sleep was described as being good and enough by 73%. The experiences reported as being more stressful were tracheal tube aspiration (81%), nose tube (75%), family worries (71%) and pain (64%). Of respondents, 51% experienced dreams and nightmares during their ICU stay; of these, 14% stated that those dreams and nightmares disturb their present daily life and they exhibit a worse HR-QOL. Forty-one percent of patients reported current sleep disturbances, 38% difficulties in concentrating in current daily activities and 36% difficulties in remembering recent events. More than half of the patients reported more fatigue than before the ICU stay. Multiple and linear regression analysis showed that older age, longer ICU stay, higher Simplified Acute Physiology Score II, non-scheduled surgery and multiple trauma diagnostic categories, present sleep disturbances, daily disturbances by dreams and nightmares, difficulties in concentrating and difficulties in remembering recent events were independent predictors of worse HR-QOL. Multicollinearity analysis showed that, with the exception of the correlation between admission diagnostic categories and length of ICU stay (0.47), all other correlations between the independent variables and coefficient estimates included in the regression models were weak (below 0.30).
This study suggests that neuropsychological consequences of critical illness, in particular the recollection of ICU experiences, may influence subsequent HR-QOL.
PMCID: PMC1175917  PMID: 15774056
critical illness; follow-up; health-related quality of life; intensive care; neuropsychological sequelae; outcome
3.  Variability of ICU Use in Adult Patients With Minor Traumatic Intracranial Hemorrhage 
Annals of emergency medicine  2012;61(5):10.1016/j.annemergmed.2012.08.024.
Study objective
Patients with minor traumatic intracranial hemorrhage are frequently admitted to the ICU, although many never require critical care interventions. To describe ICU resource use in minor traumatic intracranial hemorrhage, we assess (1) the variability of ICU use in a cohort of patients with minor traumatic intracranial hemorrhage across multiple trauma centers, and (2) the proportion of adult patients with traumatic intracranial hemorrhage who are admitted to the ICU and never receive a critical care intervention during hospitalization. In addition, we evaluate the association between ICU admission and key independent variables.
A structured, historical cohort study of adult patients (aged 18 years and older) with minor traumatic intracranial hemorrhage was conducted within a consortium of 8 Level I trauma centers in the western United States from January 2005 to June 2010. The study population included patients with minor traumatic intracranial hemorrhage, defined as an emergency department (ED) Glasgow Coma Scale (GCS) score of 15 (normal mental status) and an Injury Severity Score less than 16 (no other major organ injury). The primary outcome measure was initial ICU admission. The secondary outcome measure was a critical care intervention during hospitalization. Critical care interventions included mechanical ventilation, neurosurgical intervention, transfusion of blood products, vasopressor or inotrope administration, and invasive hemodynamic monitoring. ED disposition and the proportion of ICU patients not receiving a critical care intervention were compared across sites with descriptive statistics. The association between ICU admission and predetermined independent variables was analyzed with multivariable regression.
Among 11,240 adult patients with traumatic intracranial hemorrhage, 1,412 (13%) had minor traumatic intracranial hemorrhage and complete ED disposition data (mean age 48 years; SD 20 years). ICU use within this cohort across sites ranged from 50% to 97%. Overall, 847 of 888 patients (95%) with minor traumatic intracranial hemorrhage who were admitted to the ICU did not receive a critical care intervention during hospitalization (range between sites 80% to 100%). Three of 524 (0.6%) patients discharged home or admitted to the observation unit or ward received a critical care intervention. After controlling for severity of injury (age, blood pressure, and Injury Severity Score), study site was independently associated with ICU admission (odds ratios ranged from 1.5 to 30; overall effect P<.001).
Across a consortium of trauma centers in the western United States, there was wide variability in ICU use within a cohort of patients with minor traumatic intracranial hemorrhage. Moreover, a large proportion of patients admitted to the ICU never required a critical care intervention, indicating the potential to improve use of critical care resources in patients with minor traumatic intracranial hemorrhage.
PMCID: PMC3880139  PMID: 23021347
4.  Discomfort and factual recollection in intensive care unit patients 
Critical Care  2004;8(6):R467-R473.
A stay in the intensive care unit (ICU), although potentially life-saving, may cause considerable discomfort to patients. However, retrospective assessment of discomfort is difficult because recollection of stressful events may be impaired by sedation and severe illness during the ICU stay. This study addresses the following questions. What is the incidence of discomfort reported by patients recently discharged from an ICU? What were the sources of discomfort reported? What was the degree of factual recollection during patients' stay in the ICU? Finally, was discomfort reported more often in patients with good factual recollection?
All ICU patients older than 18 years who had needed prolonged (>24 hour) admission with tracheal intubation and mechanical ventilation were consecutively included. Within three days after discharge from the ICU, a structured, in-person interview was conducted with each individual patient. All patients were asked to complete a questionnaire consisting of 14 questions specifically concerning the environment of the ICU they had stayed in. Furthermore, they were asked whether they remembered any discomfort during their stay; if they did then they were asked to specify which sources of discomfort they could recall. A reference group of surgical ward patients, matched by sex and age to the ICU group, was studied to validate the questionnaire.
A total of 125 patients discharged from the ICU were included in this study. Data for 123 ICU patients and 48 surgical ward patients were analyzed. The prevalence of recollection of any type of discomfort in the ICU patients was 54% (n = 66). These 66 patients were asked to identify the sources of discomfort, and presence of an endotracheal tube, hallucinations and medical activities were identified as such sources. The median (min–max) score for factual recollection in the ICU patients was 15 (0–28). The median (min–max) score for factual recollection in the reference group was 25 (19–28). Analysis revealed that discomfort was positively related to factual recollection (odds ratio 1.1; P < 0.001), especially discomfort caused by the presence of an endotracheal tube, medical activities and noise. Hallucinations were reported more often with increasing age. Pain as a source of discomfort was predominantly reported by younger patients.
Among postdischarge ICU patients, 54% recalled discomfort. However, memory was often impaired: the median factual recollection score of ICU patients was significantly lower than that of matched control patients. The presence of an endotracheal tube, hallucinations and medical activities were most frequently reported as sources of discomfort. Patients with a higher factual recollection score were at greater risk for remembering the stressful presence of an endotracheal tube, medical activities and noise. Younger patients were more likely to report pain as a source of discomfort.
PMCID: PMC1065072  PMID: 15566593
discomfort; hallucinations; intensive care unit; recollection
5.  Advanced accident research system based on a medical and engineering data in the metropolitan area of Florence 
In the metropolitan area of Florence, 62% of major traumas involve powered two wheeler rider and pillion passengers, 10% cyclists, and 7% pedestrians. The urban and extra-urban areas are the most dangerous for the vulnerable road user. In-depth investigations are needed for assessing detailed information on road accidents. This type of study has been very limited in time frame in Italy, and completely absent in the Tuscan region.
Consequently a study called “In-depth Study of road Accident in FlorencE” (In-SAFE) has been initiated.
A network between the Department of Mechanics and Industrial Technologies (University of Florence) and the Intensive Care Unit of the Emergency Department (Careggi Teaching Hospital, Florence) was created with the aim of collecting information about the road accidents. The data collected includes: on-scene data, data coming from examination of the vehicles, kinematics and dynamic crash data, injuries, treatment, and injury mechanisms. Each injury is codified thorough the AIS score, localized by a three-dimensional human body model based on computer tomography slices, and the main scores are calculated. We then associate each injury with its cause and crash technical parameters. Finally, all the information is collected in the In-SAFE database.
Patient mean age at the time of the accident was 34.6 years, and 80% were males. The ISS mean is 24.2 (SD 8.7) and the NISS mean is 33.6 (SD 10.5). The main road accident configurations are the “car-to-PTW” (25%) and “pedestrian run over” (17,9%). For the former, the main collision configuration is “head-on crash” (57%). Cyclists and PTW riders-and-pillions-passengers suffer serious injuries (AIS3+) mainly to the head and the thorax. The head (56.4%) and the lower extremities (12.7%) are the most frequently injured pedestrian body regions.
The aim of the project is to create an in-depth road accident study with special focus on the correlation between technical parameters and injuries. An in-depth investigation team was setup and is currently active in the metropolitan area of Florence.
Twenty-eight serious road accidents involving twenty-nine ICU patients are studied. PTW users, cyclist and pedestrians are the most frequently involved in metropolitan accidents.
PMCID: PMC3606293  PMID: 23496830
In-depth accident database; Injury mechanism; Injury pattern; Biomechanics; Road accident; Injury causes
6.  Electrical injuries. Biological values measurements as a prediction factor of local evolution in electrocutions lesions 
Journal of Medicine and Life  2014;7(2):226-236.
Rationale. Taking into account the incidence and the severity of electrocutions, we consider it extremely necessary to find effective, appropriate and particularized therapeutic solutions aimed at improving the survival, decreasing the mortality, ensuring a superior functional and aesthetic effect and facilitating the social reintegration.
Given the severity of the general condition of the electrically injured patient and the fact that any worsening of the lesions has a systemic echo, the selection of the timing for re-excision is very important.
The postponement of the surgical timing can break the precarious metabolic equilibrium and can hasten the installation of the multisystem organ failure (MSOF).
Objective. The study is intended to establish a possible connection between the clinical evolution of the electrically injured patient and the dynamics of three important biological parameters, able to provide data concerning the therapeutic attitude to be followed.
The patients with a diagnostic of high-voltage electrocution, who will be admitted to the Clinic, will be followed for a period of 2 years. The parameters to be followed daily will be:
- Creatin-kinase, as a marker of muscular damage
- Hemoglobin, as a marker of tissue oxygenation
- Leukocytes, as an indicator of a possible septic evolution.
The therapeutic alternatives, including the administration of antiplatelet drugs will be studied.
Methods and Results. In the period October 2010-June 2013 a total of 12 cases of high-voltage electrocution were admitted in our clinic. Among these, some could be placed in the study of 7 cases, as the remaining patients died within the first 24 hours of hospitalization due to the endured lesions.
All the patients were admitted to the ICU ward that supported the treatment and monitoring until their stabilization, at which time they were transferred to the ward.
All the patients received anti-thromboxane treatment from their admission (injectable NSAIDs associated with antisecretory drugs). By mutual agreement with ICU service, Dipyridamole was not introduced because of the “steal effect” in the viable areas to the detriment of the already ischemic areas, the drug effect being obvious in vitro, but hard to be proven in the clinical case.
The relationship between the CK level and the clinical appearance of the ischemic areas is relative. We cannot conclude that an increased level of CK is equivalent to an enlarged ischemic area and even less it does not provide us direct information concerning the best time for re-excision.
The presence of a viable blood supply around the necrotic tissue will lead to an important resorption of degradation products in that area, a quasinormal level of CK having no value. The sealing of the necrosis areas and the lack of immediate resorption does not have a positive prognostic value. Taking into account that the electrocutions are mostly multiple injuries, the CK level can increase even after some muscular damages, fractures, independent of the actual electrocution lesion.
In one case, the patient suffered from electrocution at both thoracic limbs. With the carbonization of the hands and grifa installed up to the level of the elbow fold, he stayed for 6 hours at the accident site until he had been recovered. At the moment of presentation to the hospital, his consciousness condition was satisfactory but the CK level was of over 20000 IU, becoming rapidly non-detectable, in combination with black urine. The patient's condition deteriorated quickly, and, although the bilateral shoulder disarticulation has been carried out, he died in the next 12 hours.
Discussion. As a conclusion, the CK level did not prove itself a prognostic for the surgical timing or the actual surgical attitude and could be influenced by a whole series of factors, dependent or not on the electrocution lesion.
A radical attitude is to be preferred in cases with established ischemia; the prognostic being the more reserved the larger the damage and the longer the period of time from the event. The established treatment is of renal support and treatment of acute renal injury (AKI) subsequently installed.
An increased level of leukocytes is always present as in any severe trauma, even if there are no immediate signs of infection of the electrocution lesions.
Taking into account that the electrocution lesion as well as the one caused by burning destroys the natural defense barrier represented by the skin, the infection risk is major and that is why the therapeutic protocol stipulates the immediate establishment of a treatment with broad-spectrum antibiotics or with an association of antibiotics.
The increase of the leukocytes level under antibiotics treatment involves either the contamination with a germ that is not sensitive to the respective antibiotic or the persistence of necrosis areas which secondarily infect, and where antibiotic penetration is very low. Therefore, the excision of the compromised tissues is an absolute necessity.
In terms of prognostic, the increase of the leukocytes number signified an insufficient excision and indicated the resuming and deepening of the excisions. Taking into account that the patient has been admitted through the ICU service, the risk of contracting severe infections with selected germs is real. Another risk is that of infection with Clostridium difficile following the prolonged utilization of broad-spectrum antibiotics, especially in patients with associated diseases and reduced immunity per primam.
The existence of completely separate circuits should solve the problem of contamination with bacteria of selected species; unfortunately, in our cases, we have faced this problem and the utilization of last choice antibiotics (Imipenem, Vancomycin, Targocid, etc.) as well as the association of immunoglobulins was necessary.
All the patients admitted in the study received anti-thromboxane drugs in order to limit the ischemic process at tissue level. Despite the efforts we have made, the lack of blood and its derivatives or simply the negligence in patient monitoring, allowed the decrease, even transient of the Hb level, sometimes only for a few hours, but enough to allow the deepening of the ischemic lesions.
Excisions were carried out in all the patients in emergency or even amputations of the extremities, with the wish to limit the extension of the ischemic lesions and the resorption of cell degradation products.
The amputations performed in emergency did not always represent a saving solution; however, they remained the most effective measures when they were carried out immediately after the accident and obviously in viable tissue.
The increase of CK is not an indicative factor itself in making re-excisions but orients the therapeutic approach, the utilization of the dialysis when the values do not decrease by treatment for renal support and the forcing of diuresis is required.
The normalization of CK indicates the time when we can start the covering of the defects resulted as a consequence of the excisions.
The level of the leukocytes represents both a prognostic factor and an indicative factor for the re-excision of the ischemic areas. An increased level under antibiotic therapy signifies either an incomplete excision or the contamination with flora resisting to the antibiotic that has been used.
In the light of findings in the caring of the patients with electrocutions, I propose several caring/assessment protocols for the severe electrically injured patient.
PMCID: PMC4197509  PMID: 25408731
electrical injuries; electrocutions; electrically-injured patient; CK level; carbonization
7.  Fluid resuscitation protocols for burn patients at intensive care units of the United Kingdom and Ireland 
Introduction: The objective of this study was to determine the thermal injury fluid resuscitation protocols at intensive care units (ICUs) in the United Kingdom and Ireland.
Materials and methods: A telephone questionnaire was designed to survey the fluid resuscitation protocols of ICUs at all hospitals with plastic/burn surgery departments in the British Isles in 2010. The feedback from the questionnaire was from the senior nurse in charge of the ICUs.
Results: 32/64 (50%) of these ICUs had provided care to burns patients. A 100% response from these 32 units was obtained. 71.4% commence fluid resuscitation at 15% total body surface area burn (TBSA), 21.4% at 20% TBSA and 7.1% at 10% TBSA in adults. The estimated resuscitation volume was most often calculated using the Parkland/Modified Parkland formula (87.5%) or the Muir and Barclay formula (12.5%). Interestingly, of the ICUs using formulae, two had recently moved from using the Muir and Barclay formula to Parkland formula and one had recently moved from using the Parkland formula to Muir and Barclay formula. Despite this, 37.5% of ICUs using a formula did not rigidly follow it exactly. The most commonly used resuscitation fluid was Ringer’s lactate solution (46.9%) and Human Albumin Solution was used in 12.5%. No ICU used red cell concentrate as a first line fluid. 18.8% used a central line. 40.6% ICUs considered changing the IV solution during resuscitation. 78.1% ICUs consider urine output to be the most important factor in modifying resuscitation volumes. 59.4% ICUs calculate a maintenance fluid rate after completion of resuscitation. The endpoint for resuscitation was at 24 h in 46.9% ICUs and at 36 h in 9.4%. 5/32 (16%) felt their protocol gave too little and 6/32 (19%) felt their protocol gave too much. 59.3% ICUs gave oral/enteral fluids by naso-gastric or naso-jejenal tubes. 21.9% felt that oral/enteral resuscitation worked. Exactly half of the units believed that the formula that they used provided approximately the right amount of fluid, with 25% believing that it provided too much and 21.9% that it provided too little.
Discussion and conclusion: There is substantial variation in the fluid resuscitation protocols for burns of ICUs in the British Isles. The different practices demonstrated in this survey may have important consequences as inadequate fluid resuscitation can limit perfusion to potentially recoverable burns, grafted tissue and body organs not directly injured.
PMCID: PMC3118694  PMID: 21698088
burns; fluid resuscitation; colloids; crystalloids
8.  Implementation, reliability testing, and compliance monitoring of the Confusion Assessment Method for the Intensive Care Unit (CAM-ICU) in trauma patients 
Intensive care medicine  2008;34(7):1263-1268.
To implement delirium monitoring, test reliability, and monitor compliance of performing the Confusion Assessment Method for the Intensive Care Unit (CAM-ICU) in trauma patients.
Design and setting
Prospective, observational study in a Level 1 trauma unit of a tertiary care, university-based medical center.
Acutely injured patients admitted to the trauma unit from February 1, 2006–April 16, 2006.
Measurements and Results
Following web-based teaching modules and group in-services, bedside nurses evaluated patients daily for depth of sedation with the Richmond Agitation-Sedation Scale (RASS) and for the presence of delirium with the CAM-ICU. On randomly assigned days over a 10-week period, evaluations by nursing staff were followed by evaluations by an expert evaluator of the RASS and the CAM-ICU, in order to assess compliance and reliability of the CAM-ICU in trauma patients. Following the audit period, the nurses completed a post-implementation survey.
One thousand and eleven random CAM-ICU assessments were performed by the expert evaluator, within 1 hour of the bedside nurses’ assessments. Nurses completed the CAM-ICU assessments in 84% (849 of 1011) of evaluations. Overall agreement (κ) between nurses and the expert evaluator was 0.77 (0.721, 0.822; p<0.0001). In TBI patients κ was 0.75 (0.667, 0.829; p<0.0001), while in mechanically-ventilated patients κ was 0.62 (0.534, 0.704; p<0.0001). The survey revealed nurses were confident in performing the CAM-ICU, realized the importance of delirium, and were satisfied with the training they received. The survey also acknowledged obstacles to implementation including nursing time and failure of physicians/surgeons to address treatment approaches for delirium.
The CAM-ICU can be successfully implemented in a university-based trauma unit with high compliance and reliability. Quality improvement projects seeking to implement delirium monitoring would be wise to address potential pitfalls including time complaints and the negative impact of physician indifference regarding this form of organ dysfunction.
PMCID: PMC3773486  PMID: 18297270
delirium; trauma; critical care; implementation; monitoring; Confusion Assessment Method for the Intensive Care Unit (CAM-ICU)
9.  Nursing Workload in Intensive Care Unit Trauma Patients: Analysis of Associated Factors 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(11):e112125.
From the perspective of nurses, trauma patients in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) demand a high degree of nursing workload due to hemodynamic instability and the severity of trauma injuries. This study aims to identify the factors related to the high nursing workload required for trauma victims admitted to the ICU.
This is a prospective, cross-sectional study using descriptive and correlation analyses, conducted with 200 trauma patients admitted to an ICU in the city of São Paulo, Brazil. The nursing workload was measured using the Nursing Activities Score (NAS). The distribution of the NAS values into tertiles led to the identification of two research groups: medium/low workload and high workload. The Chi-square, Fisher's exact, Mann-Whitney and multiple logistic regression tests were utilized for the analyses.
The majority of patients were male (82.0%) and suffered blunt trauma (94.5%), with traffic accidents (57.5%) and falls (31.0%) being prevalent. The mean age was 40.7 years (±18.6) and the mean NAS was 71.3% (±16.9). Patient gender, the presence of pulmonary failure, the number of injured body regions and the risk of death according to the Simplified Acute Physiology Score II were factors associated with a high degree of nursing workload in the first 24 hours following admission to the ICU.
Workload demand was higher in male patients with physiological instability and multiple severe trauma injuries who developed pulmonary failure.
PMCID: PMC4223038  PMID: 25375369
10.  An Economic Evaluation of Venous Thromboembolism Prophylaxis Strategies in Critically Ill Trauma Patients at Risk of Bleeding 
PLoS Medicine  2009;6(6):e1000098.
Using decision analysis, Henry Stelfox and colleagues estimate the cost-effectiveness of three venous thromboembolism prophylaxis strategies in patients with severe traumatic injuries who were also at risk for bleeding complications.
Critically ill trauma patients with severe injuries are at high risk for venous thromboembolism (VTE) and bleeding simultaneously. Currently, the optimal VTE prophylaxis strategy is unknown for trauma patients with a contraindication to pharmacological prophylaxis because of a risk of bleeding.
Methods and Findings
Using decision analysis, we estimated the cost effectiveness of three VTE prophylaxis strategies—pneumatic compression devices (PCDs) and expectant management alone, serial Doppler ultrasound (SDU) screening, and prophylactic insertion of a vena cava filter (VCF)—in trauma patients admitted to an intensive care unit (ICU) with severe injuries who were believed to have a contraindication to pharmacological prophylaxis for up to two weeks because of a risk of major bleeding. Data on the probability of deep vein thrombosis (DVT) and pulmonary embolism (PE), and on the effectiveness of the prophylactic strategies, were taken from observational and randomized controlled studies. The probabilities of in-hospital death, ICU and hospital discharge rates, and resource use were taken from a population-based cohort of trauma patients with severe injuries (injury severity scores >12) admitted to the ICU of a regional trauma centre. The incidence of DVT at 12 weeks was similar for the PCD (14.9%) and SDU (15.0%) strategies, but higher for the VCF (25.7%) strategy. Conversely, the incidence of PE at 12 weeks was highest in the PCD strategy (2.9%), followed by the SDU (1.5%) and VCF (0.3%) strategies. Expected mortality and quality-adjusted life years were nearly identical for all three management strategies. Expected health care costs at 12 weeks were Can$55,831 for the PCD strategy, Can$55,334 for the SDU screening strategy, and Can$57,377 for the VCF strategy, with similar trends noted over a lifetime analysis.
The attributable mortality due to PE in trauma patients with severe injuries is low relative to other causes of mortality. Prophylactic placement of VCF in patients at high risk of VTE who cannot receive pharmacological prophylaxis is expensive and associated with an increased risk of DVT. Compared to the other strategies, SDU screening was associated with better clinical outcomes and lower costs.
Please see later in the article for Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
For patients who have been seriously injured in an accident or a violent attack (trauma patients), venous thromboembolism (VTE)—the formation of blood clots that limit the flow of blood through the veins—is a frequent and potentially fatal complication. The commonest form of VTE is deep vein thrombosis (DVT). “Distal” DVTs (clots that form in deep veins below the knee) affect about half of patients with severe trauma; “proximal” DVTs (clots that form above the knee) develop in one in five trauma patients. DVTs cause pain and swelling in the affected leg and can leave patients with a painful condition called post-thrombotic syndrome. Worse still, part of the clot can break off and travel to the lungs where it can cause a life-threatening pulmonary embolism (PE). Distal DVTs rarely embolize but, if untreated, half of patients who present with a proximal DVT will develop a PE, and 2%–3% of them will die as a result.
Why Was This Study Done?
VTE is usually prevented by using heparin, a drug that stops blood clotting, but clinicians treating critically ill trauma patients have a dilemma. Many of these patients are at high risk of serious bleeding complications so cannot be given heparin to prevent VTE. Nonpharmacological ways to prevent VTE include the use of pneumatic compression devices to keep the blood moving in the legs (clots often form in patients confined to bed because of the sluggish blood flow in their legs), repeated screening for blood clots using Doppler ultrasound, and the insertion of a “vena cava filter” into the vein that takes blood from the legs to the heart. This last device catches blood clots before they reach the lungs but increases the risk of DVT. Unfortunately, no-one knows which VTE prevention strategy works best in trauma patients who cannot be given heparin. In this study, therefore, the researchers use decision analysis (the systematic evaluation of the most important factors affecting a decision) to estimate the costs and likely clinical outcomes of these strategies.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers used cost and clinical data from patients admitted to a Canadian trauma center with severe head/neck and/or abdomen/pelvis injuries (patients with a high risk of bleeding complications likely to make heparin therapy dangerous for up to two weeks after the injury) to construct a Markov decision analysis model. They then fed published data on the chances of patients developing DVT or PE, and on the effectiveness of the three VTE prevention strategies, into the model to obtain estimates of the costs and clinical outcomes of the strategies at 12 weeks after the injury and over the patients' lifetime. The estimated incidence of DVT at 12 weeks was 15% for the pneumatic compression device and Doppler ultrasound strategies, but 25% for the vena cava filter strategy. By contrast, the estimated incidence of PE was 2.9% with the pneumatic compression device, 1.5% with Doppler ultrasound, but only 0.3% with the vena cava filter. The expected mortality with all three strategies was similar. Finally, the estimated health care costs per patient at 12 weeks were Can$55,334 and Can$55,831 for the Doppler ultrasound and pneumatic compression device strategies, respectively, but Can$57,377 for the vena cava filter strategy; similar trends were seen for lifetime health care costs.
What Do These Findings Mean?
As with all mathematical models, these findings depend on the data fed into the model and on the assumptions included in it. For example, because data from one Canadian trauma unit were used to construct the model, these findings may not be generalizable. Nevertheless, these findings suggest that, although VTE is common among patients with severe injuries, PE is not a major cause of death among these patients. They also suggest that the use of vena cava filters for VTE prevention in patients who cannot receive heparin should not be routinely used because it is expensive and increases the risk of DVT. Finally, these results suggest that, compared with the other strategies, serial Doppler ultrasound is associated with better clinical outcomes and lower costs.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at
The US National Heart Lung and Blood Institute provides information (including an animation) on deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism
MedlinePlus provides links to more information about deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism (in several languages)
The UK National Health Service Choices Web site has information on deep vein thrombosis and on embolism (in English and Spanish)
The Eastern Association for the Surgery of Trauma working group document Practice Management Guidelines for the Management of Venous Thromboembolism in Trauma Patients can be downloaded from the Internet
PMCID: PMC2695771  PMID: 19554085
11.  Trauma admissions to the Intensive care unit at a reference hospital in Northwestern Tanzania 
Major trauma has been reported to be a major cause of hospitalization and intensive care utilization worldwide and consumes a significant amount of the health care budget. The aim of this study was to describe the characteristics and treatment outcome of major trauma patients admitted into our ICU and to identify predictors of outcome.
Between January 2008 and December 2010, a descriptive prospective study of all trauma admissions to a multidisciplinary intensive care unit (ICU) of Bugando Medical Centre in Northwestern Tanzania was conducted.
A total of 312 cases of major trauma were admitted in the ICU, representing 37.1% of the total ICU admissions. Males outnumbered females by a ratio of 5.5:1. Their median age was 27 years. Trauma admissions were almost exclusively emergencies (95.2%) and came mainly from the Accident and Emergency (60.6%) and Operating room (23.4%). Road traffic crash (RTC) was the most common cause of injuries affecting 70.8% of patients. Two hundred fourteen patients (68.6%) required surgical intervention. The overall ICU length of stay (LOS) for all trauma patients ranged from 1 to 59 days (median = 8 days). The median ICU length of hospital stay (LOS) for survivors and non-survivors were 8 and 5 days respectively. (P = 0.002). Mortality rate was 32.7%. Mortality rate of trauma patients was significantly higher than that of all ICU admissions (32.7% vs. 18.8%, P = 0.0012). According to multivariate logistic regression analysis, multiple injuries, severe head injuries and burns were responsible for a longer mean ICU stay (P < 0.001) whereas admission Glasgow Coma Score < 9, systolic blood pressure < 90 mmHg, injury severity core >16, prolonged duration of loss of consciousness, delayed ICU admission (0.028), the need for ventilatory support and finding of space occupying lesion on computed tomography scan significantly influenced mortality (P < 0.001).
Trauma resulting from road traffic crashes is a leading cause of intensive care utilization in our hospital. Urgent preventive measures targeting at reducing the occurrence of RTCs is necessary to reduce ICU trauma admissions in this region. Improved pre- and in-hospital care of trauma victims will improve the outcome of trauma patients admitted to our ICU.
PMCID: PMC3214823  PMID: 22024353
Intensive care unit; trauma admissions; prevalence; injury characteristics; outcome; Tanzania
Background: Patients with severe stroke defined as NIHSS score >17 constituting about 15-20% of cerebrovascular accident require admission into the Intensive Care Unit (ICU). However the benefit of ICU admission for stroke patients remains controversial.
Aim & Objectives: To determine the characteristics and outcome of patients with cerebrovascular accident managed at the Intensive Care Unit of University of Benin Teaching Hospital.
Methodology: Demographic characteristics, clinical features and course, treatment options and outcome of all stroke patients admitted in ICU from January 2002 to January 2012 were retrieved from the hospital records and analyzed. A patient before and after each stroke patient were selected as controls for the study. Primary outcome variable was ICU mortality, type of stroke whether ischemic or haemorrhagic, duration of stay, whether patients were transferred from the medical/stroke ward or from the accident and emergency department of the hospital.
Results: A total of thirty six (36) stroke patients were admitted into the ICU within the study period accounting for 5.6% of the total ICU admissions. The male: female ratio is 2:1 and patients aged >60 years accounted for 55.6%. Stroke patients admitted into ICU had a mortality rate of 77.8%. Patients with severe stroke admitted into the ICU were 4 times more likely to die compared to non-stroke patients in the ICU (p=0.002, OR=4.472). However, severe stroke had no significant impact on duration of ICU stay (p=0.454, OR=1.464).
Conclusion: Stroke patients have a high mortality in the intensive care unit that is independent on the type and route of admission. Provision of the support equipment and instruments required for high dependency service in the intensive care unit and early admission should improve the outcome.
PMCID: PMC4228813  PMID: 25453008
Severe cerebrovascular accident; ICU admission ; High mortality;  Nigeria
13.  Admissions to intensive care units from emergency departments: a descriptive study 
Emergency Medicine Journal : EMJ  2005;22(6):423-428.
Objectives: To describe the case mix, activity, and outcome for admissions to intensive care units (ICUs) from emergency departments (EDs).
Design: An observational study using data from a high quality clinical database, the Case Mix Programme Database, of intensive care admissions, coordinated at the Intensive Care National Audit & Research Centre (ICNARC).
Setting: 91 adult ICUs in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland, 1996–99.
Subjects: 46 587 intensive care admissions.
Main outcome measures: Ultimate hospital mortality.
Results: Admissions from EDs constituted 26% of total admissions to ICU, 77% of which were direct admissions to ICU from EDs. Direct admissions from EDs, indirect admissions from EDs, and non-ED admissions presented to ICU with different conditions and severity of illness. Indirect admissions from EDs presented in the ICU with the more severe case mix (older age, more acute severity of illness, more likely to have a chronic illness) compared with direct admissions to ICU from EDs. Compared with ICU admissions not originating in EDs, unit and hospital mortality were higher for admissions from EDs, with indirect admissions experiencing the highest hospital (46.4%) mortality. For ICU survivors, indirect admissions stayed longest in the ICU.
Conclusions: A large proportion of admissions to ICU (26%) originate in EDs, and differ from those not originating in EDs in terms of both case mix and outcome. Additionally, those admitted directly to ICU from EDs differ from those admitted indirectly via a ward. The observed differences in outcome between different admission routes require further investigation and explanation.
PMCID: PMC1726808  PMID: 15911950
14.  Assessment scales for delirium: A review 
World Journal of Psychiatry  2012;2(4):58-70.
Over the years many scales have been designed for screening, diagnosis and assessing the severity of delirium. In this paper we review the various instruments available to screen the patients for delirium, instruments available to diagnose delirium, assess the severity, cognitive functions, motoric subtypes, etiology and associated distress. Among the various screening instruments, NEECHAM confusion scale and delirium observation scale appear to be most suitable screening instrument for patients’ in general medical and surgical wards, depending on the type of rater (physician or nurse). In general, the instruments which are used for diagnosis [i.e., confusion assessment method (CAM), CAM for intensive care unit (CAM-ICU), Delirium Rating Scale-revised version (DRS-R-98), memorial selirium assessment scale, etc.] are based on various Diagnostic and Statistical Manual criteria and have good to excellent reliability and fair to good validity. Among the various diagnostic instruments, CAM is considered to be most useful instrument because of its accuracy, brevity, and ease of use by clinicians and lay interviewers. In contrast, DRS-R-98 appears to be a comprehensive instrument useful for diagnosis, severity rating and is sensitive to change and hence can be used for monitoring patients over a period. In the ICU setting, evidence suggests that CAM-ICU and Nursing Delirium Screening Scale had comparable sensitivities, but CAM-ICU has higher specificity. With regard to assessment of delirium in pediatric age group, certain instruments like Pediatric Anesthesia Emergence Delirium scale and pediatric CAM-ICU has been designed and have been found to be useful.
PMCID: PMC3782167  PMID: 24175169
Delirium; Screening; Diagnosis; Cognition
15.  Reviewing the effect of nursing interventions on delirious patients admitted to intensive care unit of neurosurgery ward in Al-Zahra Hospital, Isfahan University of Medical Sciences 
Disease is an abnormal process that affects all aspects of the human life. The hospital environment and particularly the intensive care unit (ICU) causes stress in the patient and hi/her family. Delirium, due to its sudden onset and startle, unconsciousness, memory impairment, illusion and dynamic or sedentary behaviors, is known as one of the stressor agents. Despite its high prevalence and the high cost complications such as long term mechanical ventilation, hospital pneumonia, pressure ulcer, prolongation of hospitalization in the hospital or the intensive care units, performance reduction and increase in mortality, this disorder remains unknown in most cases. In line with the other treatment team members, nurses should also participate in controlling the discountable factors, helping patients to cope with uncontrollable factors and using pharmacological methods to manage the delirium and feature their own unique capacity more through quick recognition, reviewing the causes and providing scientific care in improving the quality of patient care and improving the patients’ health status. Hence, this study aimed to review the effect of nursing interventions on delirium of the patients admitted to ICU of the neurosurgery ward in Al-Zahra hospital in Isfahan.
A two-group multi-stage clinical trial study was carried out on 40 patients with hyperactive delirium admitted to ICU. The questionnaire included demographic data, Richmond Agitation Sedation Scale to assess the irritability rate and study method and also cognitive confusion in intensive care unit to determine delirium status of the study population. Simple sampling method was conducted and the study samples were randomly divided into two intervention and control groups. The following nursing interventions performed on the intervention group: assuring, emotional support, clear information and effective communication with the patients and their families and also allowing family visits twice a day. In the control group, the sample received the normal and routine ICU cares. The irritability and delirium severity status of the samples were analyzed on the day of admission and the fifth day using descriptive and inferential statistical methods and also SPSS software.
Statistical analysis showed that although there was no significant difference between the groups on the first day of admission in terms of the irritability and delirium severity status, this was significant on the fifth day of the study. Wilcoxon test in the intervention and control groups indicated a significant difference between the study subjects in terms of the irritability and delirium severity status on the first day of admission and the fifth day which indicated the reduction in the irritability severity. But, this reduction was higher in the intervention group than in the control group. Furthermore, McNemar test showed that the number of the subjects with delirium in both groups reduced on the fifth day compared to the first day of admission and there was a significant difference between these two days, the number of samples without delirium in the intervention group was almost two times higher than that in the control group on the fifth day.
Nursing interventions are considered as one of the non-pharmacological methods in treating delirium and by using these methods appropriately in ICUs, the patients’ hypoactive delirium can be reduced.
PMCID: PMC3203289  PMID: 22039387
Intensive care units; delirium; nursing interventions
16.  How caregivers view patient comfort and what they do to improve it: a French survey 
Intensive care unit (ICU) patients are exposed to many sources of discomfort. Most of these are related to the patient’s condition, but ICU design or how care is organized also can contribute. The present survey was designed to describe the opinions of ICU caregivers on sources of patient discomfort and to determine how they were dealt with in practice. The architectural and organizational characteristics of ICUs also were analyzed in relation to patient comfort.
An online, closed-ended questionnaire was developed. ICU caregivers registered at the French society of intensive care were invited to complete this questionnaire.
A total of 915 staff members (55% nurses) from 264 adult and 28 pediatric ICUs completed the questionnaire. Analysis of the answers reveals that: 68% of ICUs had only single-occupancy rooms, and 66% had natural light in each room; ICU patients had access to television in 59% of ICUs; a clock was present in each room in 68% of ICUs. Visiting times were <4 h in 49% of adult ICUs, whereas 64% of respondents considered a 24-h policy to be very useful or essential to patients’ well-being. A nurse-driven analgesia protocol was available in 42% of units. For caregivers, the main sources of patient discomfort were anxiety, feelings of restraint, noise, and sleep disturbances. Paramedics generally considered discomfort related to thirst, lack of privacy, and the lack of space and time references, whereas almost 50% of doctors ignored these sources of discomfort. Half of caregivers indicated they assessed sleep quality. A minority of caregivers declared regular use of noise-reduction strategies. Twenty percent of respondents admitted to having non-work-related conversations during patient care, and only 40% indicated that care often was or always was provided without closing doors. Family participation in care was planned in very few adult ICUs.
Results of this survey showed that ICUs are poorly equipped to ensure patient privacy and rest. Access by loved ones and their participation in care also is limited. The data also highlighted that some sources of discomfort are less often taken into account by caregivers, despite being considered to contribute significantly.
PMCID: PMC3700816  PMID: 23815804
Intensive care unit; Comfort; Survey; Organization; Opinions
17.  Surgical intensive care unit clinician estimates of the adequacy of communication regarding patient prognosis 
Critical Care  2010;14(6):R218.
Intensive care unit (ICU) patients and family members repeatedly note accurate and timely communication from health care providers to be crucial to high-quality ICU care. Practice guidelines recommend improving communication. However, few data, particularly in surgical ICUs, exist on health care provider opinions regarding whether communication is effective.
To evaluate ICU clinician perceptions regarding adequacy of communication regarding prognosis, we developed a survey and administered it to a cross section of surgical ICU nurses, surgical ICU physicians, nurse practitioners (NPs), and surgeons.
Surgeons had a high satisfaction with communication regarding prognosis for themselves (90%), ICU nurses (85%), and ICU physicians and NPs (85%). ICU nurses noted high satisfaction with personal (82%) and ICU physician and NP (71%) communication, but low (2%) satisfaction with that provided by surgeons. ICU physicians and NPs noted high satisfaction with personal (74%) and ICU nurse (88%) communication, but lower (23%) satisfaction with that provided by surgeons. ICU nurses were the most likely (75%) to report speaking to patients and patient families regarding prognosis, followed by surgeons (40%), and then ICU physicians and NPs (33%). Surgeons noted many opportunities to speak to ICU nurses and ICU physicians and NPs about patient prognosis and noted that comments were often valued. ICU physicians and NPs and ICU nurses noted many opportunities to speak to each other but fewer opportunities to communicate with surgeons. ICU physicians and NPs thought that their comments were valued by ICU nurses but less valued by surgeons. ICU nurses thought that their comments were less valued by ICU physicians and NPs and surgeons.
ICU nurses, surgeons, and ICU intensivists and NPs varied widely in their satisfaction with communication relating to prognosis. Clinician groups also varied in whether they thought that they had opportunities to communicate prognosis and whether their concerns were valued by other provider groups. These results hint at the nuanced and complicated relationships present in surgical ICUs. Further validation studies and further evaluations of patient and family member perspectives are needed.
PMCID: PMC3220002  PMID: 21114837
18.  'One patient amongst many': a qualitative analysis of intensive care unit patients' experiences of transferring to the general ward 
Critical Care  2008;12(1):R21.
Many patients experience 'relocation stress' when they are transferred from an intensive care unit (ICU) to step-down (high dependency) or general ward care, and much has been written about the psychological causes. This qualitative analysis of in-depth, narrative interviews with former ICU patients explores and examines patients' accounts in order to identify additional causes of relocation stress.
Forty former ICU patients were recruited throughout the UK, using maximum variation sampling, to achieve a broad range of experiences of intensive care. Interviews in people's homes were recorded on video and audio equipment as part of a study for the Database of Personal Experiences of Health and Illness (DIPEx) web resource. All interviews were transcribed, checked and returned to respondents. For this report, a qualitative thematic analysis was used to explore experiences of transfer.
We found that most people experienced relocation distress not only because of physical and emotional difficulties relating to their illness and treatment and the inevitable anxiety resulting from leaving a protected environment, but also from concrete, practical causes. These included specific concerns about communication, feeding, nursing care and support, as well as ward organization and environment. Written excerpts from the interviews and two video excerpts taken from the DIPEx website illustrate our findings.
We conclude that there are several aspects of care that deserve further examination by researchers and service providers, and that not all of the factors associated with relocation stress should be seen as an inevitable consequence of the psychological adjustment involved in transfer from an ICU.
PMCID: PMC2374598  PMID: 18294370
19.  The Medical World is Flat Too 
World Journal of Surgery  2008;32(8):1583-1604.
Tom Friedman, in his book,“The World is Flat,” makes a very persuasive argument that our current economic policy transcends national boundaries. Friedman describes various processes that prove his point. These include workflow software, open sourcing, outsourcing, off-shoring, supply chaining, in-sourcing, and informing. The United States already outsources surgery. In this article, I give the retail surgical rates and discount rates of the US, and compare them to that of the same surgery in India, Thailand, and Singapore. Supply chaining is another example that applies to the field of medicine, particularly pharmaceuticals. Most pharmaceutical firms are located in developed countries, but 80% of the pharmaceuticals are manufactured in developing countries. A phenomenon that may be unique to the United States is that we off-shore some of our diagnostic capabilities, primarily during out nighttime hours. Under the rubric of “Nighthawk,” X-rays, including CT scans, are digitized and sent to Australia, Spain, and other countries during our nighttime hours. A diagnosis is made and sent back to the referring hospital in the US, usually within 30 minutes. I think an argument can be made that almost all of the issues that Friedman talks about in his book, apply to the field of medicine. Trauma care is a microcosm of medicine and uses most of the resources shared by other specialties. The trauma patient has to be identified and ambulances called, usually by 911 or similar numeric systems in other countries. The patient is transported to an emergency room, and if the injury is severe, admitted for acute care, which often requires surgery, intensive care, and ward care. When possible, the patient is discharged home, but is often sent to a rehabilitation facility or a nursing home. To improve trauma care and outcome, surgeons have turned to the organization and system approach that has been so successful in military situations.
Materials and methods
An extensive review of the surgical and public health papers relating to trauma was carried out. This article is an inventory of how trauma systems are progressing in different countries and whether they are effective. Some of the pitfalls that globalization may bring are also discussed.
Results and conclusions
For the last 100 years, there has been gradual improvement in care of the civilian patients, as a system approach similar to the military care of injured patients has been introduced and matured. These systems include prehospital care, acute care, rehabilitation; ideally, using a public health approach, preventive components are also utilized. Research is another component that is key in improving patient outcomes.
PMCID: PMC2490729  PMID: 18368449
20.  Outcomes following liver transplantation in intensive care unit patients 
World Journal of Hepatology  2013;5(1):26-32.
AIM: To determine feasibility of liver transplantation in patients from the intensive care unit (ICU) by estimating graft and patient survival.
METHODS: This single center retrospective study included 39 patients who had their first liver transplant directly from the intensive care unit and 927 non-ICU patients who were transplanted from hospital ward or home between January 2005 and December 2010.
RESULTS: In comparison to non-ICU patients, ICU patients had a higher model for end-stage liver disease (MELD) at transplant (median: 37 vs 20, P < 0.001). Fourteen out of 39 patients (36%) required vasopressor support immediately prior to liver transplantation (LT) with 6 patients (15%) requiring both vasopressin and norepinephrine. Sixteen ICU patients (41%) were ventilator dependent immediately prior to LT with 9 patients undergoing percutaneous tracheostomy prior to transplantation. Twenty-five ICU patients (64%) required dialysis preoperatively. At 1, 3 and 5 years after LT, graft survival was 76%, 68% and 62% in ICU patients vs 90%, 81% and 75% in non-ICU patients. Patient survival at 1, 3 and 5 years after LT was 78%, 70% and 65% in ICU patients vs 94%, 85% and 79% in non-ICU patients. When formally comparing graft survival and patient survival between ICU and non-ICU patients using Cox proportional hazards regression models, both graft survival [relative risk (RR): 1.94, 95%CI: 1.09-3.48, P = 0.026] and patient survival (RR: 2.32, 95%CI: 1.26-4.27, P = 0.007) were lower in ICU patients vs non-ICU patients in single variable analysis. These findings were consistent in multivariable analysis. Although not statistically significant, graft survival was worse in both patients with cryptogenic cirrhosis (RR: 3.29, P = 0.056) and patients who received donor after cardiac death (DCD) grafts (RR: 3.38, P = 0.060). These findings reached statistical significance when considering patient survival, which was worse for patients with cryptogenic cirrhosis (RR: 3.97, P = 0.031) and patients who were transplanted with DCD livers (RR: 4.19, P = 0.033). Graft survival and patient survival were not significantly worse for patients on mechanical ventilation (RR: 0.91, P = 0.88 in graft loss; RR: 0.69, P = 0.56 in death) or patients on vasopressors (RR: 1.06, P = 0.93 in graft loss; RR: 1.24, P = 0.74 in death) immediately prior to LT. Trends toward lower graft survival and patient survival were observed for patients on dialysis immediately before LT, however these findings did not approach statistical significance (RR: 1.70, P = 0.43 in graft loss; RR: 1.46, P = 0.58 in death).
CONCLUSION: Although ICU patients when compared to non-ICU patients have lower survivals, outcomes are still acceptable. Pre-transplant ventilation, hemodialysis, and vasopressors were not associated with adverse outcomes.
PMCID: PMC3562723  PMID: 23383363
Donor pool; Donor outcomes; Onor after cardiac death grafts; Liver graft survival; Patient survival
21.  Introduction of Medical Emergency Teams in Australia and New Zealand: a multi-centre study 
Critical Care  2008;12(2):R46.
Information about Medical Emergency Teams (METs) in Australia and New Zealand (ANZ) is limited to local studies and a cluster randomised controlled trial (the Medical Emergency Response and Intervention Trial [MERIT]). Thus, we sought to describe the timing of the introduction of METs into ANZ hospitals relative to relevant publications and to assess changes in the incidence and rate of intensive care unit (ICU) admissions due to a ward cardiac arrest (CA) and ICU readmissions.
We used the Australian and New Zealand Intensive Care Society database to obtain the study data. We related MET introduction to publications about adverse events and MET services. We compared the incidence and rate of readmissions and admitted CAs from wards before and after the introduction of an MET. Finally, we identified hospitals without an MET system which had contributed to the database for at least two years from 2002 to 2005 and measured the incidence of adverse events from the first year of contribution to the second.
The MET status was known for 131 of the 172 (76.2%) hospitals that did not participate in the MERIT study. Among these hospitals, 110 (64.1%) had introduced an MET service by 2005. In the 79 hospitals in which the MET commencement date was known, 75% had introduced an MET by May 2002. Of the 110 hospitals in which an MET service was introduced, 24 (21.8%) contributed continuous data in the year before and after the known commencement date. In these hospitals, the mean incidence of CAs admitted to the ICU from the wards changed from 6.33 per year before to 5.04 per year in the year after the MET service began (difference of 1.29 per year, 95% confidence interval [CI] -0.09 to 2.67; P = 0.0244). The incidence of ICU readmissions and the mortality for both ICU-admitted CAs from wards and ICU readmissions did not change. Data were available to calculate the change in ICU admissions due to ward CAs for 16 of 62 (25.8%) hospitals without an MET system. In these hospitals, admissions to the ICU after a ward CA decreased from 5.0 per year in the first year of data contribution to 4.2 per year in the following year (difference of 0.8 per year, 95% CI -0.81 to 3.49; P = 0.3).
Approximately 60% of hospitals in ANZ with an ICU report having an MET service. Most introduced the MET service early and in association with literature related to adverse events. Although available in only a quarter of hospitals, temporal trends suggest an overall decrease in the incidence of ward CAs admitted to the ICU in MET as well as non-MET hospitals.
PMCID: PMC2447594  PMID: 18394192
22.  Role of Psychosocial Care on ICU Trauma 
Patients treated in intensive care units (ICU) though receive the best medical attention are found to suffer from trauma typically attributed to the ICU environment. Biopsychosocial approach in ICUs is found to minimize ICU trauma.
This study investigates the role of psychosocial care on patients in ICU after coronary artery bypass graft (CABG).
Settings and Design:
The study included 250 post-operative CABG patients from five corporate hospitals. The combination of between subject and correlation design was used.
Materials and Methods:
The ICU psychosocial care scale (ICUPCS) and ICU trauma scale (ICUTS) were used to measure the psychosocial care and trauma.
Statistical Analysis:
ANOVA and simple and multiple regression were applied.
Hospitals significantly differed in psychosocial care provided in ICUs. Higher the psychosocial care in ICU, lower was the ICU trauma experienced and vice versa. Psychosocial care was a significant major predictor of ICU trauma.
The study suggests emphasis on psychosocial aspects in ICU care for optimizing prognosis.
PMCID: PMC4100421  PMID: 25035559
Intensive care units (ICU); psychosocial care; trauma
23.  Patterns in Place of Cancer Death in the State of Qatar: A Population-Based Study 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(12):e109615.
International studies show that most people prefer to die at home; however, hospitals remain the most common place of death (PoD). This study aims to investigate the patterns in PoD and the associated factors, which are crucial for end-of-life cancer care enhancement.
This retrospective, population-based study analyzed all registered cancer deaths in Qatar between January 1, 2006 and December 31, 2012 (n = 1,224). The main outcome measures were patient characteristics: age, gender, nationality, cancer diagnosis, year of death, and PoD. Time trends for age-standardized proportions of death in individual PoDs were evaluated using chi-square analysis. Odds ratio (OR) were determined for variables associated with the most preferred (acute palliative care unit [APCU] and hematology/oncology ward) versus least preferred (ICU and general medicine ward) PoDs in Qatar, stratified by nationality.
The hematology/oncology ward was the most common PoD (32.4%; 95% CI 26.7–35.3%) followed by ICU (31.4%; 95% CI 28.7–34.3%), APCU (26.9%; 95% CI 24.3–29.6%), and general medicine ward (9.2%; 95% CI 7.6–11.1%). APCU trended upward (+0.057/year; p<0.001), while the hematology/oncology ward trended downward (−0.055/year; p<0.001). No statistically significant changes occurred in the other PoDs; home deaths remained low (0.4%; 95% Cl 0.38–0.42). Qataris who died from liver cancer (OR 0.23) and aged 65 or older (OR 0.64) were less likely to die in the APCU or hematology/oncology ward (p<0.05). Non-Qataris who died from pancreatic cancer (OR 3.12) and female (OR 2.05) were more likely to die in the APCU or hematology/oncology ward (p<0.05). Both Qataris and non-Qataris who died from hematologic malignancy (OR 0.18 and 0.41, respectively) were more likely to die in the ICU or general medicine ward (p<0.05).
A high percentage of cancer deaths in Qatar occur in hospital. As home was the preferred PoD for most people, effective home care and hospice programs are needed to improve end-of-life cancer care.
PMCID: PMC4275179  PMID: 25536076
24.  Factors influencing physical functional status in intensive care unit survivors two years after discharge 
BMC Anesthesiology  2013;13:11.
Studies suggest that in patients admitted to intensive care units (ICU), physical functional status (PFS) improves over time, but does not return to the same level as before ICU admission. The goal of this study was to assess physical functional status two years after discharge from an ICU and to determine factors influencing physical status in this population.
The study reviewed all patients admitted to two non-trauma ICUs during a one-year period and included patients with age ≥ 18 yrs, ICU stay ≥ 24 h, and who were alive 24 months after ICU discharge. To assess PFS, Karnofsky Performance Status Scale scores and Lawton-Instrumental Activities of Daily Living (IADL) scores at ICU admission (K-ICU and L-ICU) were compared to the scores at the end of 24 months (K-24mo and L-24mo). Data at 24 months were obtained through telephone interviews.
A total of 1,216 patients were eligible for the study. Twenty-four months after ICU discharge, 499 (41.6%) were alive, agreed to answer the interview, and had all hospital data available. PFS (K-ICU: 86.6 ± 13.8 vs. K-24mo: 77.1 ± 19.6, p < 0.001) and IADL (L-ICU: 27.0 ± 11.7 vs. L-24mo: 22.5 ± 11.5, p < 0.001) declined in patients with medical and unplanned surgical admissions. Most strikingly, the level of dependency increased in neurological patients (K-ICU: 86 ± 12 vs. K-24mo: 64 ± 21, relative risk [RR] 2.6, 95% CI, 1.8–3.6, p < 0.001) and trauma patients (K-ICU: 99 ± 2 vs. K-24mo: 83 ± 21, RR 2.7, 95% CI, 1.6–4.6, p < 0.001). The largest reduction in the ability to perform ADL occurred in neurological patients (L-ICU: 27 ± 7 vs. L-24mo: 15 ± 12, RR 3.3, 95% CI, 2.3–4.6 p < 0.001), trauma patients (L-ICU: 32 ± 0 vs. L-24mo: 25 ± 11, RR 2.8, 95% CI, 1.5–5.1, p < 0.001), patients aged ≥ 65 years (RR 1.4, 95% CI, 1.07–1.86, p = 0.01) and those who received mechanical ventilation for ≥ 8 days (RR 1.48, 95% CI, 1.02–2.15, p = 0.03).
Twenty-four months after ICU discharge, PFS was significantly poorer in patients with neurological injury, trauma, age ≥ 65 tears, and mechanical ventilation ≥ 8 days. Future studies should focus on the relationship between PFS and health-related quality of life in this population.
PMCID: PMC3701489  PMID: 23773812
Activities of Daily Living; Physical Functional Status; Intensive Care Unit; Long-term Care; Mortality; Prognosis; Health-related Quality of Life
25.  Automated Detection of Infectious Disease Outbreaks in Hospitals: A Retrospective Cohort Study 
PLoS Medicine  2010;7(2):e1000238.
Susan Huang and colleagues describe an automated statistical software, WHONET-SaTScan, its application in a hospital, and the potential it has to identify hospital infection clusters that had escaped routine detection.
Detection of outbreaks of hospital-acquired infections is often based on simple rules, such as the occurrence of three new cases of a single pathogen in two weeks on the same ward. These rules typically focus on only a few pathogens, and they do not account for the pathogens' underlying prevalence, the normal random variation in rates, and clusters that may occur beyond a single ward, such as those associated with specialty services. Ideally, outbreak detection programs should evaluate many pathogens, using a wide array of data sources.
Methods and Findings
We applied a space-time permutation scan statistic to microbiology data from patients admitted to a 750-bed academic medical center in 2002–2006, using WHONET-SaTScan laboratory information software from the World Health Organization (WHO) Collaborating Centre for Surveillance of Antimicrobial Resistance. We evaluated patients' first isolates for each potential pathogenic species. In order to evaluate hospital-associated infections, only pathogens first isolated >2 d after admission were included. Clusters were sought daily across the entire hospital, as well as in hospital wards, specialty services, and using similar antimicrobial susceptibility profiles. We assessed clusters that had a likelihood of occurring by chance less than once per year. For methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) or vancomycin-resistant enterococci (VRE), WHONET-SaTScan–generated clusters were compared to those previously identified by the Infection Control program, which were based on a rule-based criterion of three occurrences in two weeks in the same ward. Two hospital epidemiologists independently classified each cluster's importance. From 2002 to 2006, WHONET-SaTScan found 59 clusters involving 2–27 patients (median 4). Clusters were identified by antimicrobial resistance profile (41%), wards (29%), service (13%), and hospital-wide assessments (17%). WHONET-SaTScan rapidly detected the two previously known gram-negative pathogen clusters. Compared to rule-based thresholds, WHONET-SaTScan considered only one of 73 previously designated MRSA clusters and 0 of 87 VRE clusters as episodes statistically unlikely to have occurred by chance. WHONET-SaTScan identified six MRSA and four VRE clusters that were previously unknown. Epidemiologists considered more than 95% of the 59 detected clusters to merit consideration, with 27% warranting active investigation or intervention.
Automated statistical software identified hospital clusters that had escaped routine detection. It also classified many previously identified clusters as events likely to occur because of normal random fluctuations. This automated method has the potential to provide valuable real-time guidance both by identifying otherwise unrecognized outbreaks and by preventing the unnecessary implementation of resource-intensive infection control measures that interfere with regular patient care.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Admission to a hospital is often a life-saving necessity—individuals injured in a road accident, for example, may need immediate medical and surgical attention if they are to survive. Unfortunately, many patients acquire infections, some of which are life-threatening, during their stay in a hospital. The World Health Organization has estimated that, globally, 8.7% of hospital patients develop hospital-acquired infections (infections that are identified more than two days after admission to hospital). In the US alone, 2 million people develop a hospital-acquired infection every year, often an infection of a surgical wound, or a urinary tract or lung infection. Infections are common among hospital patients because increasing age or underlying illnesses can reduce immunity to infection and because many medical and surgical procedures bypass the body's natural protective barriers. In addition, poor infection control practices can facilitate the transmission of bacteria—including meticillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and vancomycin-resistant enterococci (VRE)—and other infectious agents (pathogens) between patients.
Why Was This Study Done?
Sometimes, the number of cases of hospital-acquired infections increases unexpectedly or a new infection emerges. Such clusters account for relatively few health care–associated infections, but, because they may arise from the transmission of a pathogen within a hospital, they need to be rapidly identified and measures implemented (for example, isolation of affected patients) to stop transmission if an outbreak is confirmed. Currently, the detection of clusters of hospital-acquired infections is based on simple rules, such as the occurrence of three new cases of a single pathogen in two weeks on the same ward. This rule-based approach relies on the human eye to detect infection clusters within microbiology data (information collected on the pathogens isolated from patients), it focuses on a few pathogens, and it does not consider the random variation in infection rates or the possibility that clusters might be associated with shared facilities rather than with individual wards. In this study, the researchers test whether an automated statistical system can detect outbreaks of hospital-acquired infections quickly and accurately.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers combined two software packages used to track diseases in populations to create the WHONET-SaTScan cluster detection tool. They then compared the clusters of hospital-acquired infection identified by the new tool in microbiology data from a 750-bed US academic medical center with those generated by the hospital's infection control program, which was largely based on the simple rule described above. WHONET-SaTScan found 59 clusters of infection that occurred between 2002 and 2006, about three-quarters of which were identified by characteristics other than a ward-based location. Nearly half the cluster alerts were generated on the basis of shared antibiotic susceptibility patterns. Although WHONET-SaTScan identified all the clusters previously identified by the hospital's infection control program, it classified most of these clusters as likely to be the result of normal random variations in infection rates rather than the result of “true” outbreaks. By contrast, the hospital's infection control department only identified three of the 59 statistically significant clusters identified by WHONET-SaTScan. Furthermore, the new tool identified six previously unknown MRSA outbreaks and four previously unknown VRE outbreaks. Finally, two hospital epidemiologists (scientists who study diseases in populations) classified 95% of the clusters detected by WHONET-SaTScan as worthy of consideration by the hospital infection control team and a quarter of the clusters as warranting active investigation or intervention.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings suggest that automated statistical software should be able to detect clusters of hospital-acquired infections that would escape detection using routine rule-based systems. Importantly, they also suggest that an automated system would be able to discount a large number of supposed outbreaks identified by rule-based systems. These findings need to be confirmed in other settings and in prospective studies in which the outcomes of clusters detected with WHONET-SaTScan are carefully analyzed. For now, however, these findings suggest that automated statistical tools could provide hospital infection control experts with valuable real-time guidance by identifying outbreaks that would be missed by routine detection methods and by preventing the implementation of intensive and costly infection control measures in situations where they are unnecessary.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at
The World Health Organization's Prevention of Hospital-Acquired Infections, A Practical Guide contains detailed information on all aspects of hospital-acquired infections
MedlinePlus provides links to information on infection control in hospitals (in English and Spanish)
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also provides information on infectious diseases in health care settings (in English and Spanish)
The WHONET/Baclink software and the SatScan software, the two components of WHONET-SaTScan are both available on the internet (the WHONET-SaTScan cluster detection tool is freely available as part of the version of WHONET/BacLink released June 2009)
PMCID: PMC2826381  PMID: 20186274

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