Utilisation of critical care services for surgical patients in a model three hospital

  • Amy Lee FowlerEmail author
  • Orla Cullivan
  • Shomik Sibartie
  • Aidan O’Shea
  • Ronan Waldron
  • Iqbal Khan
  • Waqar Khan
  • Kevin M. Barry
Original Article



The demand for intensive care unit (ICU) beds in the surgical population has increased in recent years. This is due to increased complexity of operative interventions, development of critical care services and improved availability of technologies. The number of beds in ICUs nationwide remains limited. In model three hospitals, this is further impacted by a lack of high dependency unit (HDU) facilities and difficulty with transfer of patients to tertiary centres.


To assess utilisation of ICU resources amongst general surgical patients admitted for elective and emergency procedures to Mayo University Hospital.


A prospective study was conducted between 31/10/2016 and 01/11/2017 on general surgical patients admitted to the intensive care unit. The ICU register and ICU database were used to collect data regarding patient demographics, admission by specialty, ICU length of stay, interventions performed, level of care, infection status and antimicrobial usage.


Eight hundred seventy-three patients were admitted to the ICU. One hundred thirty-four (15.35%) were surgical admissions, of which 55 were elective and 79 were emergency. The most common cause for emergency admission to ICU was emergency laparotomy. Mean ICU length of stay (LOS) for surgical patients was 3.6 days. Three (2.2%) surgical patients were transferred to model four hospitals.


This study demonstrates the need to protect sufficient numbers of ICU beds for delivery of emergency surgical care. It highlights the potential utility of an HDU in this setting. The introduction of such a facility would impact cost savings and increase access for those requiring definitive ICU level care.


Critical care Intensive care Model three hospital Resource utilisation Surgery 


Compliance with ethical standards

Ethics approval for this study was sought and obtained from Mayo University Hospital Ethics Committee.


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Copyright information

© Royal Academy of Medicine in Ireland 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of General SurgeryMayo University HospitalCastlebarIreland
  2. 2.Department of MicrobiologyMayo University HospitalCastlebarIreland
  3. 3.Department of AnaesthesiaMayo University HospitalCastlebarIreland

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