High Intensity ‘Intensivist Staffing’ Improves Patient Outcomes in ICU

According to an article published in the December 16th issue of Chest, numerous studies show that high-intensity intensivist staffing improves patient outcomes in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU). Chandler Regional Medical Center, a member of Catholic Healthcare West, is one of only four percent of hospitals nationwide to implement an intensivist physician staffing model, providing 24 hours a day, seven days a week coverage in the ICU.

However, the article, entitled “Physician Staffing Models and Patient Safety in the ICU,” cites that 73 percent of ICUs in the country provide low-intensity or no intensive care coverage. High-intensity staffing was associated with lower hospital mortality in 16 of the 17 studies, and also reduced hospital lengths of stay within most studies.

“The results of our program, which improves patient outcomes while shortening overall length of stay in the ICU, is in line with what other studies have concluded,” says Philip Husband, M.D., chairman of Chandler Regional Medical Center’s Medicine/Family Practice Department. He adds that the hospital also meets the Leapfrog Group standard for ICU physician staffing, which calls for intensivists and fundamental critical care support from certified physicians or physician extenders to provide care in the ICU. This standard improves patient outcomes as well as saves costs to hospitals.

According to Troy Garland, R.N., senior director of nursing for Chandler Regional Medical Center, the hospital’s intensivist group fast tracks patients from the emergency room or those who have had a clinical response team call to a higher level of care when acuity is indicated. “From a recruitment standpoint, nurses want to work in our ICU because they have the immediate physician supported needed to provide optimal patient care,” adds Garland.

To read the article in its entirety, please visit http://chestjournal.chestpubs.org/content/135/4/1038.full.html.

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