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  1. Timmers, Tim K. MD, PhD
  2. Hulstaert, Puck F. MD
  3. Leenen, Luke P. H. MD, PhD


Aims/Background: We report the results of a university surgical intensive care (SICU), which are influenced by a reorganization of the department because of a downsizing of beds with the corresponding reduction of personnel resulting in a decrease in nurse-to-bed ratio. Moreover, we report the subsequent interventions and adjustments resulting in favorable results.


Design: We performed a prospective observational cohort study of all consecutive surgical patients entering the SICU of our hospital, over the period 2000-2004.


Methods: In order to meet the budget cuts, a reduction of number of SICU beds with a corresponding reduction of nursing staff was implemented. In the subsequent period culminating on the year 2002, collaboration problems arose between medical and nursing staff: resulting in fierce discussions on the floor. Supported through external mediators, structures/work ethics/communication/collaborative behavior, and organization of the SICU were reviewed and restructured.


Results: A total of 1477 patients were admitted to the SICU. The characteristics, Acute Physiology and Chronic Health Evaluation II score and therapeutic intervention scoring system points, were not different throughout the years. The intensive care unit-length of stay (ICU-LOS) in the admission year 2002 was significantly longer (P = .001) and the crude ICU mortality was higher (P = .02) compared with the 2 admission years before. The adjusted mortality (ICU standardized mortality ratio) was also worse in 2002, however, statistically not different. After the intervention (2003 and 2004), a better result (crude ICU mortality, length of ICU stay, and ICU standardized mortality ratio) was achieved.


Conclusion: Intensive care reorganization, in which higher workload is seen in medical and nursing staff, could have a negative effect on ICU outcome and length of ICU stay.


Relevance to clinical practice: Interventions in ICU structures, communication, work ethics, and organization have a positive impact in conflict management.