Assessment and treatment of the acutely ill patient have improved by introducing systematic assessment and accelerated protocols for specific patient groups. Triage systems are widely used, but few studies have investigated the ability of the triage systems in predicting outcome in the unselected acute population. The aim of this study was to quantify the association between the main component of the Hillerød Acute Process Triage (HAPT) system and the outcome measures; Admission to Intensive Care Unit (ICU) and in-hospital mortality, and to identify the vital signs, scored and categorized at admission, that are most strongly associated with the outcome measures.
The HAPT system is a minor modification of the Swedish Adaptive Process Triage (ADAPT) and ranks patients into five level colour-coded triage categories. Each patient is assigned a triage category for the two main descriptors; vital signs, T(vitals), and presenting complaint, T(complaint). The more urgent of the two determines the final triage category, T(final). We retrieved 6279 unique adult patients admitted through the Emergency Department (ED) from the Acute Admission Database. We performed regression analysis to evaluate the association between the covariates and the outcome measures.
The covariates, T(vitals), T(complaint) and T(final) were all significantly associated with ICU admission and in-hospital mortality, the odds increasing with the urgency of the triage category. The vital signs best predicting in-hospital mortality were saturation of peripheral oxygen (SpO(2)), respiratory rate (RR), systolic blood pressure (BP) and Glasgow Coma Score (GCS). Not only the type, but also the number of abnormal vital signs, were predictive for adverse outcome. The presenting complaints associated with the highest in-hospital mortality were 'dyspnoea' (11.5%) and 'altered level of consciousness' (10.6%). More than half of the patients had a T(complaint) more urgent than T(vitals), the opposite was true in just 6% of the patients.
The HAPT system is valid in terms of predicting in-hospital mortality and ICU admission in the adult acute population. Abnormal vital signs are strongly associated with adverse outcome, while including the presenting complaint in the triage model may result in over-triage.
A shortage of intensive care beds and fully-booked intensive care units has a range of undesirable consequences for patients and personnel, eg. transfer to other intensive care units, cancellation of operations, tighter visitation criteria and an increase in the work-load. The problem is illustrated in a national survey.
The survey was undertaken in 3 parts and comprised all 50 adult intensive care units in Denmark. Part 1 was a questionnaire encompassing demographic data, the number of open intensive care beds and how often under or over capacity was experienced in the department. Parts 2 and 3 consisted of a daily registry of the capacity and occupancy rate in the intensive care departments for two weeks along with a contemporary registry of the number of admittances, transfers and cancellations of operations.
In Denmark only 2% of all somatic beds are intensive care beds. Under capacity, defined as a 100% occupancy rate, was experienced weekly or monthly in 80% of all intensive care units in Denmark. Occupancy rate was high, a medium of 78%, highest in level III intensive care units with an 88% occupancy rate. The numbers for transfers were equivalent to 800-1000 patient transfers per year. The number of cancelled operations was equivalent to 2000 per year.
This survey documents that there is a problem with the capacity in Danish intensive care units. Establishing more intensive care beds in selected departments, ensuring personnel for the beds already established and establishing intermediate care beds could relieve the shortage of beds.
Comment In: Ugeskr Laeger. 2007 May 7;169(19):1811; author reply 181117542086
There are documented capacity problems in Danish ICUs. The indications for intensive care have increased in the last decade without any increase in the number of ICU beds. The result is massive pressure on many ICUs and many negative consequences in relation to healthcare, healthcare economics and patient comfort. Possible solutions: 1) an increase in the number of ICU beds, 2) re-organization of Danish ICUs into larger units and 3) creation of "step-down"-units. Intensive care is a costly area in the healthcare system, where there must be distinct guidelines for visitation and use of expensive medicine and advanced technology.
Comment In: Ugeskr Laeger. 2007 May 7;169(19):1811; author reply 181117542086
Comment In: Ugeskr Laeger. 2007 Jun 4;169(23):2235; author reply 223717607852
Management and care of the acutely ill patient has improved over the last years due to introduction of systematic assessment and accelerated treatment protocols. We have, however, sparse knowledge of the association between patient status at admission to hospital and patient outcome. A likely explanation is the difficulty in retrieving all relevant information from one database. The objective of this article was 1) to describe the formation and design of the 'Acute Admission Database', and 2) to characterize the cohort included.
All adult patients triaged at the Emergency Department at Hillerød Hospital and admitted either to the observationary unit or to a general ward in-hospital were prospectively included during a period of 22 weeks. The triage system used was a Danish adaptation of the Swedish triage system, ADAPT. Data from 3 different data sources was merged using a unique identifier, the Central Personal Registry number; 1) Data from patient admission; time and date, vital signs, presenting complaint and triage category, 2) Blood sample results taken at admission, including a venous acid-base status, and 3) Outcome measures, e.g. length of stay, admission to Intensive Care Unit, and mortality within 7 and 28 days after admission.
In primary triage, patients were categorized as red (4.4%), orange (25.2%), yellow (38.7%) and green (31.7%). Abnormal vital signs were present at admission in 25% of the patients, most often temperature (10.5%), saturation of peripheral oxygen (9.2%), Glasgow Coma Score (6.6%) and respiratory rate (4.8%). A venous acid-base status was obtained in 43% of all patients. The majority (78%) had a pH within the normal range (7.35-7.45), 15% had acidosis (pH 7.45). Median length of stay was 2 days (range 1-123). The proportion of patients admitted to Intensive Care Unit was 1.6% (95% CI 1.2-2.0), 1.8% (95% CI 1.5-2.2) died within 7 days, and 4.2% (95% CI 3.7-4.7) died within 28 days after admission.
Despite challenges of data registration, we succeeded in creating a database of adequate size and data quality. Future studies will focus on the association between patient status at admission and patient outcome, e.g. admission to Intensive Care Unit or in-hospital mortality.
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To evaluate the performance of a new early warning score (EWS) system by reviewing all serious adverse events in our hospital over a 6-month time period.
All incidents of unexpected death (UD), cardiac arrest (CA) and unanticipated intensive care unit admission(UICU) of adult patients on general wards were reviewed to see if the escalation protocol that is part of the EWS system was followed in the 24h preceding the event, and if not where in the chain of events failure occurred.
We found 77 UICU and 67 cases of the combined outcome (CO) of CA and UD. At least two full sets of EWS were recorded in 87, 94 and 75% of UICU, CA and UD. Patients were monitored according to the escalation protocol in 13, 31 and 13% of UICU, CA and UD. Nurses escalated care and contacted physicians in 64% and 60% of events of UICU and the corresponding proportions for CO were 58% and 55%. On call physicians provided adequate care in 49% of cases of UICU and 29% of cases of the CO. Senior staff was involved according to protocol in 53% and 36% of cases of UICU and CO, respectively.
Poor compliance with the escalation protocol was commonly found when serious adverse events occurred but level of care provided by physicians was also a problem in a hospital with implemented early warning system. This information may prove useful in improving performance of EWS systems.