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The Importance of Estimating a Patient’s ICU Length of Stay

Why estimate the length of stay at an ICU?
In a scenario where there is increasing pressure to increase efficiency in the hospital sector, safely reducing hospitalization times, especially for ICU patients, is a strategy that has been widely recommended. To properly implement this strategy, it is essential to accurately estimate the length of hospitalization. Generating estimates can be useful for a range of measures, such as:

  • Identifying long-term high-risk patients and implementing specific plans of care for such;
  • Estimate and plan ICU care capacity and flow (vacancies for elective surgeries and patient transfers);
  • Allow benchmarking through risk-adjusted measures, thus comparing, in a fair way, the average length of stay between different ICUs.

What is a long-term stay at an ICU?

The current definitions of long-term stay vary (seven, ten, or 14 days) according to the profile of the units and patients. However, we believe that this logic is not about correctly evaluating what is in fact a long stay since the main diagnosis of the patient substantially influences the definition of what would be appropriate or normal.

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