INTRODUCTION: Survivors of critical illness face many potential long-term sequelae. Prior studies showed that early rehabilitation in the intensive care unit (ICU) reduces physical impairment and decreases ICU and hospital length of stay (LOS). However, these studies are based on a single ICU or were conducted with a small subset of all ICU patients. We examined the effect of an early rehabilitation program concurrently implemented in multiple ICUs on ICU and hospital LOS.
METHODS: An early rehabilitation program was systematically implemented in five ICUs at the sites of two affiliated academic institutions. We retrospectively compared ICU and hospital LOS in the year before (1/2011-12/2011) and after (1/2012-12/2012) implementation.
RESULTS: In the pre- and post-implementation periods, respectively, there were a total of 3945 and 4200 ICU admissions among the five ICUs. After implementation, there was a significant increase in the proportion of patients who received more rehabilitation treatments during their ICU stay (p < 0.001). The mean number of rehabilitation treatments per ICU patient-day increased from 0.16 to 0.72 (p < 0.001). In the post-implementation period, four of the five ICUs had a statistically significant decrease in mean ICU LOS among all patients. The overall decrease in mean ICU LOS across all five ICUs was 0.4 days (6.9%) (5.8 versus 5.4 days, p < 0.001). Across all five ICUs, there were 255 (6.5%) more admissions in the post-implementation period. The mean hospital LOS for patients from the five ICUs also decreased by 5.4% (14.7 vs. 13.9 days, p < 0.001).
CONCLUSIONS: A multi-ICU, coordinated implementation of an early rehabilitation program markedly increased rehabilitation treatments in the ICU and was associated with reduced ICU and hospital LOS as well as increased ICU admissions.