Nighttime intensivist staffing and the timing of death among ICU decedents: a retrospective cohort study. (Carmean)

Reineck LA, Wallace DJ, Barnato AE, Kahn JM. Nighttime intensivist staffing and the timing of death among ICU decedents: a retrospective cohort study. Crit Care. 2013 Oct 3;17(5):R216.

INTRODUCTION: Intensive care units (ICUs) are increasingly adopting 24-hour intensivist physician staffing. Although nighttime intensivist staffing does not consistently reduce mortality, it may affect other outcomes such as the quality of end-of-life care.

METHODS: We conducted a retrospective cohort study of ICU decedents using the 2009–2010 Acute Physiology and Chronic Health Evaluation clinical information system linked to a survey of ICU staffing practices. We restricted the analysis to ICUs with high-intensity daytime staffing, in which the addition of nighttime staffing does not influence mortality. We used multivariable regression to assess the relationship between nighttime intensivist staffing and two separate outcomes potentially related to the quality of end-of-life care: time from ICU admission to death and death at night.

RESULTS: Of 30,456 patients admitted to 27 high-intensity daytime staffed ICUs, 3,553 died in the hospital within 30 days. After adjustment for potential confounders, admission to an ICU with nighttime intensivist staffing was associated with a shorter duration between ICU admission and death (adjusted difference: -2.5 days, 95% CI -3.5 to -1.5, p-value < 0.001) and a decreased odds of nighttime death (adjusted odds ratio: 0.75, 95% CI 0.60 to 0.94, p-value 0.011) compared to admission to an ICU without nighttime intensivist staffing.

CONCLUSIONS: Among ICU decedents, nighttime intensivist staffing is associated with reduced time between ICU admission and death and reduced odds of nighttime death.

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Procalcitonin versus C-reactive protein for guiding antibiotic therapy in sepsis: a randomized trial. (Grunwell)

Oliveira CF, Botoni FA, Oliveira CR, Silva CB, Pereira HA, Serufo JC, Nobre V. Procalcitonin versus C-reactive protein for guiding antibiotic therapy in sepsis: a randomized trial. Crit Care Med. 2013 Oct;41(10):2336-43.

OBJECTIVE: We sought to evaluate whether procalcitonin was superior to C-reactive protein in guiding antibiotic therapy in intensive care patients with sepsis.

DESIGN: Randomized open clinical trial.

SETTING: Two university hospitals in Brazil.

PATIENTS: Patients with severe sepsis or septic shock.

INTERVENTIONS: Patients were randomized in two groups: the procalcitonin group and the C-reactive protein group. Antibiotic therapy was discontinued following a protocol based on serum levels of these markers, according to the allocation group. The procalcitonin group was considered superior if the duration of antibiotic therapy was at least 25% shorter than in the C-reactive protein group. For both groups, at least seven full-days of antibiotic therapy were ensured in patients with Sequential Organ Failure Assessment greater than 10 and/or bacteremia at inclusion, and patients with evident resolution of the infectious process had antibiotics stopped after 7 days, despite biomarkers levels.

MEASUREMENTS AND MAIN RESULTS: Ninety-four patients were randomized: 49 patients to the procalcitonin group and 45 patients to the C-reactive protein group. The mean age was 59.8 (SD, 16.8) years. The median duration of antibiotic therapy for the first episode of infection was 7.0 (Q1-Q3, 6.0-8.5) days in the procalcitonin group and 6.0 (Q1-Q3, 5.0-7.0) days in the C-reactive protein group (p = 0.13), with a hazard ratio of 1.206 (95% CI, 0.774-1.3; p = 0.13). Overall, protocol overruling occurred in only 13 (13.8%) patients. Twenty-one patients died in each group (p = 0.836).

CONCLUSIONS: C-reactive protein was as useful as procalcitonin in reducing antibiotic use in a predominantly medical population of septic patients, causing no apparent harm.

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Integrating advanced practice providers into medical critical care teams. (from CHEST, March 2013 – Wittkamp)

CHEST. 143(3):847-850, March 2013. PMID: 23460162

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Because there is increasing demand for critical care providers in the United States, many medical ICUs for adults have begun to integrate nurse practitioners and physician assistants into their medical teams. Studies suggest that such advanced practice providers (APPs), when appropriately trained in acute care, can be highly effective in helping to deliver high-quality medical critical care and can be important elements of teams with multiple providers, including those with medical house staff. One aspect of building an integrated team is a practice model that features appropriate coding and billing of services by all providers. Therefore, it is important to understand an APP’s scope of practice, when they are qualified for reimbursement, and how they may appropriately coordinate coding and billing with other team providers. In particular, understanding when and how to appropriately code for critical care services (Current Procedural Terminology [CPT] code 99291, critical care, evaluation and management of the critically ill or critically injured patient, first 30-74 min; CPT code 99292, critical care, each additional 30 min) and procedures is vital for creating a sustainable program. Because APPs will likely play a growing role in medical critical care units in the future, more studies are needed to compare different practice models and to determine the best way to deploy this talent in specific ICU settings.

Physician staffing models impact the timing of decisions to limit life support in the ICU. (from CHEST, March 2013 – Wittkamp)

CHEST. 2013;143(3):656-663. doi:10.1378/chest.12-1173.

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BACKGROUND:  A growing trend is the implementation of 24-h attending physician coverage in the ICU. Our aim was to measure the impact of 24-h, in-house, attending intensivist coverage on the quality of end-of-life care and the timing of end-of-life decision-making.

METHODS:  A retrospective cohort study was conducted of all ICU deaths 6 months before and 6 months after the implementation of mandatory 24-h attending intensivist coverage in a medical ICU. Data relevant to end-of-life care per established consensus recommendations were abstracted from the medical record.

RESULTS:  The following changes were observed after implementation of 24-h intensivist coverage: Time from ICU admission to decision to withdraw mechanical ventilation and time to decision to change to do-not-resuscitate code status both were shortened by 2 days (both P = .03). Quality measures, such as increased family presence around time of death (P = .01) also improved. Other findings, which did not reach statistical significance, included the following: Time to family conference was shortened by 2 days (P = .09), time to decision to limit any life support was shortened by 1 day (P = .08), time to death was shortened by 2 days (P = .08), and intubations against patient wishes decreased (from three to none; P = .12).

CONCLUSIONS:  The implementation of mandatory 24-h, in-house, attending intensivist coverage was associated with earlier decision-making across a number of domains related to end-of-life care. Positive trends were noted in quality of end-of-life care as reflected in the presence of family at the time of death.

Decisions to withdraw or withhold life support are routinely made in the ICU when patients, surrogate decision-makers, and the health-care team transition from curative to comfort care.1 The two most important factors influencing such decisions are patient preferences and patient prognosis.2,3 Numerous additional patient-, provider-, and surrogate-related factors impact such decisions and create significant variability in decision-making.4‐6 In an era when up to 20% of all adults die in the ICU and one-third of all health-care dollars in the United States are used in the last year of life, understanding how decisions to limit life support are made and implementing strategies to improve decision-making have been the subjects of continued research.1,7‐10

Additionally, there has been a growing trend and recommendations toward the use of continuous, 24-h, intensivist staffing of ICUs.11 This is typically accomplished by alternating daytime and nighttime intensivist shifts. The impact of adding continuous, attending intensivist coverage in the ICU has been associated with improvement in a number of patient outcomes including decreased hospital length of stay; decreased ICU complication rate; increased staff satisfaction; improvement in a number of evidence-based care processes, such as ventilator bundle compliance; and decreased mortality rates in some care settings.12‐14

In this single-center study, we sought to measure the impact of intensivist staffing models on decisions to limit life support in the ICU. We hypothesized that the continuous (24-h) presence of an attending intensivist would be associated with improved care at the end of life and improved end-of-life decision-making.