Unexpected ICU admissions may result from early or premature discharge from the hospital. We sought to determine the incidence, clinical characteristics, and outcomes of patients admitted to the ICU after actual or planned hospital discharge and to analyze whether the need for ICU admission was related or unrelated to the associated hospitalization.
We retrospectively reviewed all adult ICU admissions between January 2004 and December 2006 at a tertiary care cancer center and identified the following two groups of patients: those patients admitted directly to the ICU within 48 h of actual hospital discharge (group A); and those patients admitted to the ICU within 48 h of planned hospital discharge (group B).
Of 60,462 patients discharged from the hospital during the study period, 826 patients (1.4%) required readmission to the hospital within 48 h of discharge; of these, 13 patients (1.5%) were admitted directly to the ICU (group A). An additional 12 patients were admitted to the ICU within 48 h of a planned hospital discharge (group B). The majority of these 25 patients (68%) [groups A and B] required ICU admission for a condition that was related to the previous or current hospitalization. The overall hospital mortality rate for both groups was 16%.
A small, but unique group of patients is admitted to the ICU within 48 h of actual or planned hospital discharge. Worsening of the underlying condition that necessitated the previous or current hospitalization often is the reason for ICU admission. Whether ICU admission could have been prevented by continued hospital care or improved diagnostic evaluation during the prior or current hospitalization requires further study.