Use of PICU Beds for Non-Critical Care Found to Be Significant

Even when at full capacity, some PICU beds are used for non-critical care

THURSDAY, April 19 (HealthDay News) -- Pediatric intensive care unit (PICU) beds are used for critical care services the majority of the time, but even when new patients are waiting for floor beds, at least one PICU bed is usually in use for non-critical care services, according to a study published in the April issue of the Journal of Hospital Medicine.

To describe PICU bed utilization, Evan S. Fieldston, M.D., M.S.H.P., from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, and colleagues conducted a real-time, prospective observational study in a convenience sample at an urban, tertiary care pediatric hospital.

Over 824 observed hours, the researchers found that 82 percent of the 19,887 bed-hours were for critical care services and 18 percent for non-critical care services. Ninety-five percent of the bed-hours were accounted for by 14 activities. Even during the 200 hours when the PICU was at full capacity, at least one bed was used for non-critical care services 75 percent of the time and two beds were used 37 percent of the time. Nearly 5 percent of all bed-hours observed were spent waiting for a floor bed assignment, with a mean waiting time for a floor bed of nine hours.

"The PICU delivered critical care services most of the time, but periods of non-critical care services represented a significant amount of time," write the authors. "In particular, periods with no bed available for new patients were associated with at least one or more PICU beds being used for non-critical care activities."

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