Overreliance on the ICU for cardiac patients leads to worse outcomes, study finds. "We still have an open question of what to use the ICU for," says one researcher.
Hospitals that rely the most heavily on the ICU to treat their heart patients had higher 30-day mortality rates for those patients than hospitals with the lowest ICU heart admissions, researchers have found.
Data shows that heart attack patients treated in high-ICU hospitals were 6% more likely to die within 30 days of discharge than patients admitted to low-ICU hospitals, and the difference was about 8% for heart failure patients.
The study, published online in the journal CHEST, is also a reminder that it's often unclear when and why patients should actually be admitted to the ICU, and that usage of ICUs varies widely from hospital to hospital.
Researchers at the University of Michigan Medical School examined Medicare records from more than 570,000 hospital stays that took place in 2010.
More than 150,000 hospitalizations for acute myocardial infarction at nearly 1,700 hospitals were identified, and 46% of them included care in an ICU. More than 400,000 hospitalizations were for heart failure at 2,199 hospitals, and 16% of them included an ICU stay.