Maintaining an open trauma intensive care unit bed for rapid admission can be cost-effective

Lisa Fryman, Cynthia Talley, Paul Kearney, Andrew Bernard, Dan Davenport

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND: In 2012, we implemented a ready open trauma intensive care unit (TICU) bed process. Our hypothesis was that this process would decrease emergency department (ED) length of stay (LOS) in a cost-effective manner without worsening clinical outcomes. METHODS: We developed a charge nurse without a patient assignment to facilitate this open bed. We also provided team training for early ICU resuscitation. All Level 1 activations admitted directly to the TICU before and after the implementation were examined. Patients taken directly to the operating room from the ED, deaths within 24 hours of admission, and patients with nonsurvivable head injuries were excluded. Cost-effectiveness of the position was examined. RESULTS: Age (mean [SD], 45.78 [18.71] years), sex (74.7% male), and Injury Severity Score (ISS) (mean [SD], 17.27 [9.26]) were not significantly different. Median ED LOS for the postimplementation group decreased from 230 minutes to 66 minutes (p < 0.001). Median ICU LOS (from 3.29 to 2.98 days, p = 0.13) and total median hospital LOS (from 10.71 to 7.98 days, p = 0.06) decreased but were not statistically significant. Controlling for age, ISS, sex, and mechanism of injury the postimplementation group had a 29% reduction in ICU LOS (2.12 days), a 28% reduction in hospital LOS (4.34), and a 54% reduction in ED LOS (154 minutes). The LOS decreased despite a small increase in ISS (from 15.89 to 18.37). Observed/expected mortality did not differ between the groups, preimplementation/postimplementation of 0.87 and 0.92. Nursing productivity increased one nurse after implementation at a cost of $624 per day. The ICU LOS decrease of 1.6 days at a rate of $1,144 average ICU daily cost of room and board totaled $1,830 per patient. The decreased ICU LOS dollars minus the increase nurse pay resulted in an overall savings of $1,206 per patient. CONCLUSION: Rapid access to the TICU made possible by the charge nurse without a direct assignment and team training has a potential cost savings without adversely affecting patient outcomes. LEVEL OF EVIDENCE: Cost analysis, level III.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)98-104
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Trauma and Acute Care Surgery
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 3 2015

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
Copyright © 2015 Wolters Kluwer Health, Inc. All rights reserved.


  • Emergency department length of stay
  • bed management
  • cost-effectiveness
  • trauma ICU charge nurse

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Critical Care and Intensive Care Medicine


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