Designing an effective training program requires information regarding the needs, capability and aspirations of its users. Prompted by the low career satisfaction levels shown by critical care medicine (CCM) clinicians in a previous survey, and a lack of data regarding the career goals of CCM trainees in Canadian training programs, this survey-based study, which had an exemplary response rate of 85%, examined career expectations, and the barriers and enablers to career goals among individuals from adult and pediatric CCM programs across Canada.
For training programs to meet the needs of trainees, an understanding of their career goals and expectations is required.
Canadian critical care medicine (CCM) trainees were surveyed to understand their career goals in terms of clinical work, research, teaching, administration and management; and to identify their perceptions regarding the support they need to achieve their goals.
The online survey was sent to all trainees registered in a Canadian adult or pediatric CCM program. It documented the participants’ demographics; their career expectations; the perceived barriers and enablers to achieve their career goals; and their perceptions relating to their chances of developing a career in different areas.
A response rate of 85% (66 of 78) was obtained. The majority expected to work in an academic centre. Only approximately one-third (31%) estimated their chances of obtaining a position in CCM as >75%. The majority planned to devote 25% to 75% of their time performing clinical work and <25% in education, research or administration. The trainees perceived that there were limited employment opportunities. Networking and having specialized expertise were mentioned as being facilitators for obtaining employment. They expressed a need for more protected time, resources and mentorship for nonclinical tasks during training.
CCM trainees perceived having only limited support to help them to achieve their career goals and anticipate difficulties in obtaining successful employment. They identified several gaps that could be addressed by training programs, including more mentoring in the areas of research, education and administration.
Career; Critical care; Education; Needs assessment; Survey; Training
Although existing guidelines support the utilization of intracranial pressure (ICP) monitoring in patients with traumatic brain injury (TBI), the evidence suggesting benefit is limited. To evaluate the impact on outcome, we determined the relationship between ICP monitoring and mortality in centers participating in the American College of Surgeons Trauma Quality Improvement Program (TQIP). Data on 10,628 adults with severe TBI were derived from 155 TQIP centers over 2009–2011. Random-intercept multilevel modeling was used to evaluate the association between ICP monitoring and mortality after adjusting for important confounders. We evaluated this relationship at the patient level and at the institutional level. Overall mortality (n=3769) was 35%. Only 1874 (17.6%) patients underwent ICP monitoring, with a mortality of 32%. The adjusted odds ratio (OR) for mortality was 0.44 [95% confidence interval (CI), 0.31–0.63], when comparing patients with ICP monitoring to those without. It is plausible that patients receiving ICP monitoring were selected because of an anticipated favorable outcome. To overcome this limitation, we stratified hospitals into quartiles based on ICP monitoring utilization. Hospitals with higher rates of ICP monitoring use were associated with lower mortality: The adjusted OR of death was 0.52 (95% CI, 0.35–0.78) in the quartile of hospitals with highest use, compared to the lowest. ICP monitoring utilization rates explained only 9.9% of variation in mortality across centers. Results were comparable irrespective of the method of case-mix adjustment. In this observational study, ICP monitoring utilization was associated with lower mortality. However, variability in ICP monitoring rates contributed only modestly to variability in institutional mortality rates. Identifying other institutional practices that impact on mortality is an important area for future research.
head injury; intracranial pressure; multilevel analysis; traumatic brain injury
We evaluated the validity of physician billing claims to identify deceased organ donors in large provincial healthcare databases.
We conducted a population-based retrospective validation study of all deceased donors in Ontario, Canada from 2006 to 2011 (n = 988). We included all registered deaths during the same period (n = 458,074). Our main outcome measures included sensitivity, specificity, positive predictive value, and negative predictive value of various algorithms consisting of physician billing claims to identify deceased organ donors and organ-specific donors compared to a reference standard of medical chart abstraction.
The best performing algorithm consisted of any one of 10 different physician billing claims. This algorithm had a sensitivity of 75.4% (95% CI: 72.6% to 78.0%) and a positive predictive value of 77.4% (95% CI: 74.7% to 80.0%) for the identification of deceased organ donors. As expected, specificity and negative predictive value were near 100%. The number of organ donors identified by the algorithm each year was similar to the expected value, and this included the pre-validation period (1991 to 2005). Algorithms to identify organ–specific donors performed poorly (e.g. sensitivity ranged from 0% for small intestine to 67% for heart; positive predictive values ranged from 0% for small intestine to 37% for heart).
Primary data abstraction to identify deceased organ donors should be used whenever possible, particularly for the detection of organ-specific donations. The limitations of physician billing claims should be considered whenever they are used.
Venous thromboembolism (VTE) has been associated with a higher risk of developing malignancy and mortality, and patients with VTE may therefore benefit from increased surveillance. We aimed to construct a clinical predictive score that could classify patients with VTE according to their risk for developing these outcomes.
Observational cohort study using an existing clinical registry in a tertiary academic teaching hospital in Buenos Aires, Argentina. 1264 adult patients greater than 17 years of age presented new VTE between June 2006 and December 2011 and were included in the registry. We excluded patients with previous or incident cancer, those who died during the first month, and those with less than one year of follow up (< 5%). 540 patients were included. Primary outcome was new cancer diagnosis during one year of follow-up, secondary composite outcome was any new cancer diagnosis or death. The score was developed using a multivariable logistic regression model to predict cancer or death.
During follow-up, one-quarter (26.4%) of patients developed cancer (9.2%) or died (23.7%). Patients with the primary outcome had more comorbidities, were more likely to have previous thromboembolism and less likely to have recent surgery. The final score developed for predicting cancer alone included previous episode of VTE, recent surgery and comorbidity (Charlson comorbidity score), [AUC of 0.75 (95% CI 0.66-0.84) and 0.79 (95% CI 0.63-0.95) in the derivation and validation cohorts, respectively]. The version of this score developed to predict cancer or death included age, albumin level, comorbidity, previous episode of VTE, and recent surgery [AUC = 0.72 (95% CI 0.66-0.78) and 0.71 (95% CI 0.63-0.79) in the derivation and validation cohorts, respectively].
A simple clinical predictive score accurately estimates patients’ risk of developing cancer or death following newly diagnosed VTE. This tool could be used to help reassure low risk patients, or to identify high-risk patients that might benefit from closer surveillance and additional investigations.
Venous thromboembolism; Thromboembolism; Cancer; Pulmonary embolism
Critical Care; Intensive Care Unit; Length of Stay; Staffing; Organization; Economics
Shortfalls in deceased organ donation lead to shortages of solid organs available for transplantation. We assessed rates of deceased organ donation and compared hospitals that had clinical services for transplant recipients (transplant hospitals) to those that did not (general hospitals).
We conducted a population-based cohort analysis involving patients who died from traumatic brain injury, subarachnoid hemorrhage, intracerebral hemorrhage or other catastrophic neurologic conditions in Ontario, Canada, between Apr. 1, 1994, and Mar. 31, 2011. We distinguished between acute care hospitals with and without transplant services. The primary outcome was actual organ donation determined through the physician database for organ procurement procedures.
Overall, 87 129 patients died from catastrophic neurologic conditions during the study period, of whom 1930 became actual donors. Our primary analysis excluded patients from small hospitals, reducing the total to 79 746 patients, of whom 1898 became actual donors. Patients who died in transplant hospitals had a distribution of demographic characteristics similar to that of patients who died in other large general hospitals. Transplant hospitals had an actual donor rate per 100 deaths that was about 4 times the donor rate at large general hospitals (5.0 v. 1.4, p < 0.001). The relative reduction in donations at general hospitals was accentuated among older patients, persisted among patients who were the most eligible candidates and amounted to about 121 fewer actual donors per year (adjusted odds ratio 0.58, 95% confidence interval 0.36–0.92). Hospital volumes were only weakly correlated with actual organ donation rates.
Optimizing organ donation requires greater attention to large general hospitals. These hospitals account for most of the potential donors and missed opportunities for deceased organ donation.
Intensive care unit (ICU) beds are limited, yet few guidelines exist for triage of patients to the ICU, especially patients at low-risk for mortality. The frequency with which low-risk patients are admitted to ICUs in different hospitals is unknown. Our objective was to assess variation in use of intensive care for patients with diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA), a common condition with a low-risk of mortality.
Observational study using the New York State Inpatient Database (2005-2007).
159 New York State acute care hospitals.
15,994 adult (≥18) hospital admissions with a primary diagnosis of DKA (ICD-9-CM 250.1x).
Measurements and Main Results
We calculated reliability- and risk-adjusted ICU utilization, hospital length of stay (LOS), and mortality. We identified hospital-level factors associated with increased likelihood of ICU admission after controlling for patient characteristics using multilevel mixed-effects logistic regression analyses; we assessed the amount of residual variation in ICU utilization using the intra-class correlation coefficient. Use of intensive care for DKA patients varied widely across hospitals (adjusted range: 2.1% to 87.7%), but was not associated with hospital LOS or mortality. After multilevel adjustment, hospitals with a high volume of DKA admissions admitted DKA patients to the ICU less often (OR 0.40, p=0.002, highest quintile compared to lowest) whereas hospitals with higher rates of ICU utilization for all non-DKA inpatients admitted DKA patients to the ICU more frequently (OR 1.31, p=0.001, for each additional ten percent increase). In the multi-level model, more than half (58%) of the variation in ICU admission practice attributable to hospitals remained unexplained.
We observed variation across hospitals in use of intensive care for DKA patients that was not associated with differences in hospital LOS or mortality. Institutional practice patterns appear to impact admission decisions and represent a potential target for reduction of resource utilization in higher use institutions.
Diabetic Ketoacidosis; Delivery of Health Care; Physician’s Practice Patterns
Pleotropic effects of statins on inflammation are hypothesised to attenuate the severity of and possibly prevent the occurrence of the host inflammatory response to pathogen and infection-related acute organ failure. We conducted an international survey of intensive care physicians in Australia, New Zealand (ANZ) and United Kingdom (UK). The aims of the survey were to assess the current prescribing practice patterns, attitudes towards prescribing statin therapy in critically ill patients and opinions on the need for an interventional trial of statin therapy in critically ill patients.
Survey questions were developed through an iterative process. An expert group reviewed the resulting 26 items for face and content validity and clarity. The questions were further refined following pilot testing by ICU physicians from Australia, Canada and the UK. We used the online Smart SurveyTM software to administer the survey.
Of 239 respondents (62 from ANZ and 177 from UK) 58% worked in teaching hospitals; most (78.2%) practised in ‘closed’ units with a mixed medical and surgical case mix (71.0%). The most frequently prescribed statins were simvastatin (77.6%) in the UK and atorvastatin (66.1%) in ANZ. The main reasons cited to explain the choice of statin were preadmission prescription and pharmacy availability. Most respondents reported never starting statins to prevent (65.3%) or treat (89.1%) organ dysfunction. Only a minority (10%) disagreed with a statement that the risks of major side effects of statins when prescribed in critically ill patients were low. The majority (84.5%) of respondents strongly agreed that a clinical trial of statins for prevention is needed. More than half (56.5%) favoured rates of organ failure as the primary outcome for such a trial, while a minority (40.6%) favoured mortality.
Despite differences in type of statins prescribed, critical care physicians in the UK and ANZ reported similar prescription practices. Respondents from both communities agreed that a trial is needed to test whether statins can prevent the onset of new organ failure in patients with sepsis.
Survey; Statin; Sepsis; Critical care; Clinical trials
Chest x-rays (CXRs) are the most frequent radiological tests performed in the intensive care unit (ICU). However, the utility of performing daily routine CXRs is unclear.
We searched Medline and Embase (1948 to March 2011) for randomized and quasi-randomized controlled trials (RCTs) and before-after observational studies comparing a strategy of routine CXRs to a more restrictive approach with CXRs performed to investigate clinical changes among critically ill adults or children. In duplicate, we extracted data on the CXR strategy, study quality and clinical outcomes (ICU and hospital mortality; duration of mechanical ventilation and ICU and hospital stay).
Nine studies (39,358 CXRs; 9,611 patients) were included in the meta-analysis. Three trials (N = 870) of moderate to good quality provided information on the safety of a restrictive routine CXR strategy; only one trial systematically assessed for missed findings. Pooled data from trials showed no evidence of effect of a restrictive approach on ICU mortality (risk ratio [RR] 1.04, 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.84 to 1.28, P = 0.72; two trials, N = 776), hospital mortality (RR 0.98, 95% CI 0.68 to 1.41, P = 0.91; two trials, N = 259), ICU length of stay (weighted mean difference [WMD] -0.86 days, 95% CI -2.38 to 0.66 days, P = 0.27; three trials, N = 870), hospital length of stay (WMD -2.50 days, 95% CI -6.62 to 1.61 days, P = 0.23; two trials, N = 259), or duration of mechanical ventilation (WMD -0.30 days, 95% CI -1.48 to 0.89 days, P = 0.62; three trials, N = 705). Adding data from six observational studies, one of which systematically screened for missed findings, gave similar results.
This meta-analysis did not detect any harm associated with a restrictive chest radiograph strategy. However, confidence intervals were wide and harm was not rigorously assessed. Therefore, the safety of abandoning routine CXRs in patients admitted to the ICU remains uncertain.
Recommendations for acceptable emergency department (ED) length of stay (LOS) vary internationally with ≤ 8 h generally considered acceptable. Protracted ED LOS may place critically ill patients requiring mechanical ventilation at increased risk of adverse events as most EDs are not resourced for longitudinal delivery of critical care. Our objective was to quantify the ED LOS for mechanically ventilated patients (invasive and/or non-invasive ventilation [NIV]) and to explore patient and system level predictors of prolonged ED LOS. Additionally, we aimed to describe delivery and monitoring of ventilation in the ED.
Prospective observational study of ED LOS for all patients receiving mechanical ventilation at four metropolitan EDs in Toronto, Canada over two six-month periods in 2009 and 2010.
We identified 618 mechanically ventilated patients which represented 0.5% (95% CI 0.4%–0.5%) of all ED visits. Of these, 484 (78.3%) received invasive ventilation, 118 (19.1%) received NIV; 16 received both during the ED stay. Median Kaplan-Meier estimated duration of ED stay for all patients was 6.4 h (IQR 2.8–14.6). Patients with trauma diagnoses had a shorter median (IQR) LOS, 2.5 h (1.3–5.1), compared to ventilated patients with non-trauma diagnoses, 8.5 h (3.3–14.0) (p <0.001). Patients requiring NIV had a longer ED stay (16.6 h, 8.2–27.9) compared to those receiving invasive ventilation exclusively (4.6 h, 2.2–11.1) and patients receiving both (15.4 h, 6.4–32.6) (p <0.001). Longer ED LOS was associated with ED site and lower priority triage scores. Shorter ED LOS was associated with intubation at another ED prior to transfer.
While patients requiring mechanical ventilation represent a small proportion of overall ED visits these critically ill patients frequently experienced prolonged ED stay especially those treated with NIV, assigned lower priority triage scores at ED presentation, and non-trauma patients.
Mechanical ventilation; Emergency department; Non-invasive ventilation, critical illness; Acute respiratory failure
Percutaneous tracheostomy has become a routine procedure in most intensive care units, and point of care ultrasound is becoming used with greater frequency to augment diagnosis and therapy for critically ill patients. The case series from Rajajee and colleagues incorporates 'real-time' ultrasound in an effort to improve the safety of percutaneous tracheostomy. While their report does not prove that ultrasound should be used prior to or during all percutaneous tracheostomies, it does reinforce several important safety considerations concerning the anatomy of the neck, and in particular the potential to encounter bleeding complications during these procedures.
Severe traumatic brain injury often leads to death from withdrawal of life-sustaining therapy, although prognosis is difficult to determine.
To evaluate variation in mortality following the withdrawal of life-sustaining therapy and hospital mortality in patients with critical illness and severe traumatic brain injury, we conducted a two-year multicentre retrospective cohort study in six Canadian level-one trauma centres. The effect of centre on hospital mortality and withdrawal of life-sustaining therapy was evaluated using multivariable logistic regression adjusted for baseline patient-level covariates (sex, age, pupillary reactivity and score on the Glasgow coma scale).
We randomly selected 720 patients with traumatic brain injury for our study. The overall hospital mortality among these patients was 228/720 (31.7%, 95% confidence interval [CI] 28.4%–35.2%) and ranged from 10.8% to 44.2% across centres (χ2 test for overall difference, p < 0.001). Most deaths (70.2% [160/228], 95% CI 63.9%–75.7%) were associated with withdrawal of life-sustaining therapy, ranging from 45.0% (18/40) to 86.8% (46/53) (χ2 test for overall difference, p < 0.001) across centres. Adjusted odd ratios (ORs) for the effect of centre on hospital mortality ranged from 0.61 to 1.55 (p < 0.001). The incidence of withdrawal of life-sustaining therapy varied by centre, with ORs ranging from 0.42 to 2.40 (p = 0.001). About one half of deaths that occurred following the withdrawal of life-sustaining therapies happened within the first three days of care.
We observed significant variation in mortality across centres. This may be explained in part by regional variations in physician, family or community approaches to the withdrawal of life-sustaining therapy. Considering the high proportion of early deaths associated with the withdrawal of life-sustaining therapy and the limited accuracy of current prognostic indicators, caution should be used regarding early withdrawal of life-sustaining therapy following severe traumatic brain injury.
Avoid corticosteroids for prophylaxis; possibly use them for treatment
Advances in resuscitation science have dramatically improved survival rates following cardiac arrest. However, about 60% of adults that regain spontaneous circulation die before leaving the hospital. Recently it has been shown that inducing hypothermia in cardiac arrest survivors immediately following their arrival in hospital can dramatically improve both overall survival and neurological outcomes. Despite the strong evidence for its efficacy and the apparent simplicity of this intervention, recent surveys show that therapeutic hypothermia is delivered inconsistently, incompletely, and often with delay.
Methods and design
This study will evaluate a multi-faceted knowledge translation strategy designed to increase the utilization rate of induced hypothermia in survivors of cardiac arrest across a network of 37 hospitals in Southwestern Ontario, Canada. The study is designed as a stepped wedge randomized trial lasting two years. Individual hospitals will be randomly assigned to four different wedges that will receive the active knowledge translation strategy according to a sequential rollout over a number of time periods. By the end of the study, all hospitals will have received the intervention. The primary aim is to measure the effectiveness of a multifaceted knowledge translation plan involving education, reminders, and audit-feedback for improving the use of induced hypothermia in survivors of cardiac arrest presenting to the emergency department. The primary outcome is the proportion of eligible OHCA patients that are cooled to a body temperature of 32 to 34°C within six hours of arrival in the hospital. Secondary outcomes will include process of care measures and clinical outcomes.
Inducing hypothermia in cardiac arrest survivors immediately following their arrival to hospital has been shown to dramatically improve both overall survival and neurological outcomes. However, this lifesaving treatment is frequently not applied in practice. If this trial is positive, our results will have broad implications by showing that a knowledge translation strategy shared across a collaborative network of hospitals can increase the number of patients that receive this lifesaving intervention in a timely manner.
ClinicalTrials.gov Trial Identifier: NCT00683683
In the 2003 Toronto SARS outbreak, SARS-CoV was transmitted in hospitals despite adherence to infection control procedures. Considerable controversy resulted regarding which procedures and behaviours were associated with the greatest risk of SARS-CoV transmission.
A retrospective cohort study was conducted to identify risk factors for transmission of SARS-CoV during intubation from laboratory confirmed SARS patients to HCWs involved in their care. All SARS patients requiring intubation during the Toronto outbreak were identified. All HCWs who provided care to intubated SARS patients during treatment or transportation and who entered a patient room or had direct patient contact from 24 hours before to 4 hours after intubation were eligible for this study. Data was collected on patients by chart review and on HCWs by interviewer-administered questionnaire. Generalized estimating equation (GEE) logistic regression models and classification and regression trees (CART) were used to identify risk factors for SARS transmission.
45 laboratory-confirmed intubated SARS patients were identified. Of the 697 HCWs involved in their care, 624 (90%) participated in the study. SARS-CoV was transmitted to 26 HCWs from 7 patients; 21 HCWs were infected by 3 patients. In multivariate GEE logistic regression models, presence in the room during fiberoptic intubation (OR = 2.79, p = .004) or ECG (OR = 3.52, p = .002), unprotected eye contact with secretions (OR = 7.34, p = .001), patient APACHE II score ≥20 (OR = 17.05, p = .009) and patient Pa02/Fi02 ratio ≤59 (OR = 8.65, p = .001) were associated with increased risk of transmission of SARS-CoV. In CART analyses, the four covariates which explained the greatest amount of variation in SARS-CoV transmission were covariates representing individual patients.
Close contact with the airway of severely ill patients and failure of infection control practices to prevent exposure to respiratory secretions were associated with transmission of SARS-CoV. Rates of transmission of SARS-CoV varied widely among patients.
Patients with intracranial hemorrhage due to traumatic brain injury are at high risk of developing venous thromboembolism including deep vein thrombosis (DVT) and pulmonary embolism (PE). Thus, there is a trade-off between the risks of progression of intracranial hemorrhage (ICH) versus reduction of DVT/PE with the use of prophylactic anticoagulation. Using decision analysis modeling techniques, we developed a model for examining this trade-off for trauma patients with documented ICH.
The decision node involved the choice to administer or to withhold low molecular weight heparin (LMWH) anticoagulation prophylaxis at 24 hours. Advantages of withholding therapy were decreased risk of ICH progression (death, disabling neurologic deficit, non-disabling neurologic deficit), and decreased risk of systemic bleeding complications (death, massive bleed). The associated disadvantage was greater risk of developing DVT/PE or death. Probabilities for each outcome were derived from natural history studies and randomized controlled trials when available. Utilities were obtained from accepted databases and previous studies.
The expected value associated with withholding anticoagulation prophylaxis was similar (0.90) to that associated with the LMWH strategy (0.89). Only two threshold values were encountered in one-way sensitivity analyses. If the effectiveness of LMWH at preventing DVT exceeded 80% (range from literature 33% to 82%) our model favoured this therapy. Similarly, our model favoured use of LMWH if this therapy increased the risk of ICH progression by no more than 5% above the baseline risk.
Our model showed no clear advantage to providing or withholding anticoagulant prophylaxis for DVT/PE prevention at 24 hours after traumatic brain injury associated with ICH. Therefore randomized controlled trials are justifiable and needed to guide clinicians.
To assess the impact of using wireless e-mail for clinical communication in an intensive care unit (ICU).
The authors implemented push wireless e-mail over a GSM cellular network in a 26-bed ICU during a 6-month study period. Daytime ICU staff (intensivists, nurses, respiratory therapists, pharmacists, clerical staff, and ICU leadership) used handheld devices (BlackBerry, Research in Motion, Waterloo, ON) without dedicated training. The authors recorded e-mail volume and used standard methods to develop a self-administered survey of ICU staff to measure wireless e-mail impact.
The survey assessed perceived impact of wireless e-mail on communication, team relationships, staff satisfaction and patient care. Answers were recorded on a 7-point Likert scale; favorable responses were categorized as Likert responses 5, 6, and 7.
Staff sent 5.2 (1.9) and received 8.9 (2.1) messages (mean [SD]) per day during 5 months of the 6-month study period; usage decreased after study completion. Most (106/125 [85%]) staff completed the questionnaire. The majority reported that wireless e-mail improved speed (92%) and reliability (92%) of communication, improved coordination of ICU team members (88%), reduced staff frustration (75%), and resulted in faster (90%) and safer (75%) patient care; Likert responses were significantly different from neutral (p < 0.001 for all). Staff infrequently (18%) reported negative effects on communication. There were no reports of radiofrequency interference with medical devices.
Interdisciplinary ICU staff perceived wireless e-mail to improve communication, team relationships, staff satisfaction, and patient care. Further research should address the impact of wireless e-mail on efficiency and timeliness of staff workflow and clinical outcomes.
Intensive care physicians often must rely on substitute decision makers to address all dimensions of the construct of "best interest" for incapable, critically ill patients. This task involves identifying prior wishes and to facilitate the substitute decision maker's understanding of the incapable patient's condition and their likely response to treatment. We sought to determine how well such discussions are documented in a typical intensive care unit.
Using a quality of communication instrument developed from a literature search and expert opinion, 2 investigators transcribed and analyzed 260 handwritten communications for 105 critically ill patients who died in the intensive care unit between January and June 2006. Cohen's kappa was calculated before analysis and then disagreements were resolved by consensus. We report results on a per-patient basis to represent documented communication as a process leading up to the time of death in the ICU. We report frequencies and percentages for discrete data, median (m) and interquartile range (IQR) for continuous data.
Our cohort was elderly (m 72, IQR 58-81 years) and had high APACHE II scores predictive of a high probability of death (m 28, IQR 23-36). Length of stay in the intensive care unit prior to death was short (m 2, IQR 1-5 days), and withdrawal of life support preceded death for more than half (n 57, 54%). Brain death criteria were present for 18 patients (17%). Although intensivists' communications were timely (median 17 h from admission to critical care), the person consenting on behalf of the incapable patient was explicitly documented for only 10% of patients. Life support strategies at the time of communication were noted in 45% of charts, and options for their future use were presented in 88%. Considerations relevant to determining the patient's best interest in relation to the treatment plan were not well documented. While explicit survival estimates were noted in 50% of charts, physicians infrequently documented their own predictions of the patient's functional status (20%), anticipated need for chronic care (0%), or post ICU quality of life (3%). Similarly, documentation of the patient's own perspectives on these ranged from 2-18%.
Intensivists' documentation of their communication with substitute decision makers frequently outlined the proposed plan of treatment, but often lacked evidence of discussion relevant to whether the treatment plan was expected to improve the patient's condition. Legislative standards for determination of best interest, such as the Health Care Consent Act in Ontario, Canada, may provide guidance for intensivists to optimally document the rationales for proposed treatment plans.
There are challenges to timely adoption of, and ongoing adherence to, evidence-based practices known to improve patient care in the intensive care unit (ICU). Quality improvement initiatives using a collaborative network approach may increase the use of such practices. Our objective is to evaluate the effectiveness of a novel knowledge translation program for increasing the proportion of patients who appropriately receive the following six evidence-based care practices: venous thromboembolism prophylaxis; ventilator-associated pneumonia prevention; spontaneous breathing trials; catheter-related bloodstream infection prevention; decubitus ulcer prevention; and early enteral nutrition.
Methods and design
We will conduct a pragmatic cluster randomized active control trial in 15 community ICUs and one academic ICU in Ontario, Canada. The intervention is a multifaceted videoconferenced educational and problem-solving forum to organize knowledge translation strategies, including comparative audit and feedback, educational sessions from content experts, and dissemination of algorithms. Fifteen individual ICUs (clusters) will be randomized to receive quality improvement interventions targeting one of the best practices during each of six study phases. Each phase lasts four months during the first study year and three months during the second. At the end of each study phase, ICUs are assigned to an intervention for a best practice not yet received according to a random schedule. The primary analysis will use patient-level process-of-care data to measure the intervention's effect on rates of adoption and adherence of each best practice in the targeted ICU clusters versus controls.
This study design evaluates a new system for knowledge translation and quality improvement across six common ICU problems. All participating ICUs receive quality improvement initiatives during every study phase, improving buy-in. This study design could be considered for other quality improvement interventions and in other care settings.
This trial is registered with (ID #: NCT00332982)
Intensive care unit (ICU) admission for bone marrow transplant recipients immediately following transplantation is an ominous event, yet the survival of these patients with subsequent ICU admissions is unknown. Our objective was to determine the long-term outcome of bone marrow transplant recipients admitted to an ICU during subsequent hospitalizations.
We conducted a population-based cohort analysis of all adult bone marrow transplant recipients who received subsequent ICU care in Ontario, Canada from 1 January 1992 to 31 March 2002. The primary endpoint was mortality at 1 year.
A total of 2,653 patients received bone marrow transplantation; 504 of which received ICU care during a subsequent hospitalization. Patients receiving any major procedure during their ICU stay had higher 1-year mortality than those patients who received no ICU procedure (87% versus 44%, P < 0.0001). Death rates at 1 year were highest for those receiving mechanical ventilation (87%), pulmonary artery catheterization (91%), or hemodialysis (94%). In combination, the strongest independent predictors of death at 1 year were mechanical ventilation (odds ratio, 7.4; 95% confidence interval, 4.8 to 11.4) and hemodialysis (odds ratio, 8.7; 95% confidence interval, 2.1 to 36.7), yet no combination of procedures uniformly predicted 100% mortality.
The prognosis of bone marrow transplant recipients receiving ICU care during subsequent hospitalizations is very poor but should not be considered futile.
We aimed to determine the adverse events and important prognostic factors associated with interfacility transport of intubated and mechanically ventilated adult patients.
We performed a systematic review of MEDLINE, CENTRAL, EMBASE, CINAHL, HEALTHSTAR, and Web of Science (from inception until 10 January 2005) for all clinical studies describing the incidence and predictors of adverse events in intubated and mechanically ventilated adult patients undergoing interfacility transport. The bibliographies of selected articles were also examined.
Five studies (245 patients) met the inclusion criteria. All were case-series and two were prospective in design. Due to the paucity of studies and significant heterogeneity in study population, outcome events, and results, we synthesized data in a qualitative manner. Pre-transport severity of illness was reported in only one study. The most common indication for transport was a need for investigations and/or specialist care (three studies, 220 patients). Transport modalities included air (fixed or rotor wing; 66% of patients) and ground (31%) ambulance, and commercial aircraft (3%). Transport teams included a physician in three studies (220 patients). Death during transfer was rare (n = 1). No other adverse events or significant therapeutic interventions during transport were reported. One study reported a 19% (28/145) incidence of respiratory alkalosis on arrival and another study documented a 30% overall intensive care unit mortality, while no adverse events or outcomes were reported after arrival in the three other studies.
Insufficient data exist to draw firm conclusions regarding the mortality, morbidity, or risk factors associated with the interfacility transport of intubated and mechanically ventilated adult patients. Further study is required to define the risks and benefits of interfacility transfer in this patient population. Such information is important for the planning and allocation of resources related to transporting critically ill adults.