U.S. hospital ICU admissions up 50 percent since 2002

Published: May 15, 2013 at 10:25 PM
 WASHINGTON, May 15 (UPI) — Admissions to U.S.  hospital intensive care units jumped 50 percent from 2002 to 2009, but  researchers are not sure why.

Lead author Peter Mullins of George Washington University’s School of Public Health and Health Services and colleagues found  ICU admissions rose from 2.79 million in 2002-03 to 4.14 million in 2008-09. For  the same time period, overall emergency department admissions grew by only 5.8  percent.

“These findings suggested emergency physicians were sending more patients on  to the ICU,” Mullins said in a statement. “The increase might be the result of  an older, sicker population that needs more care.”

However, the larger question, which this study couldn’t answer, was whether  there will be enough ICU capacity in the future to accommodate the growing  number of patients, particularly the oldest of the old, the study authors  said.

ICU admissions grew the most among patients age 85 and older — increasing 25  percent every two years.

Utilization of tests and services provided to emergency department patients  on their way to the ICU also spiked during the study period, with the largest  rise occurring in computerized tomography or magnetic resonance imaging tests.  In fact, CT and MRI tests provided while still in the emergency department  increased from 16.8 percent to 37.4 percent, the study found.

The most common reasons for ICU admissions were symptoms such as chest pain  or shortness of breath that can signal life-threatening conditions like heart  attacks.

The researchers used data from the National Hospital Ambulatory Care Survey,  a sample of U.S. hospital-based emergency departments. Their study was published  in the journal Academic Emergency Medicine.

Read more:  http://www.upi.com/Health_News/2013/05/15/US-hospital-ICU-admissions-up-50-percent-since-2002/UPI-94601368671117/#ixzz2TWRii02s

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