© 2015 The Authors. Published on behalf of the American Heart Association, Inc., by Wiley Blackwell. BACKGROUND: Little is known about cross-hospital differences in critical care units admission rates and related resource utilization and outcomes among patients hospitalized with acute coronary syndromes (ACS) or heart failure (HF). METHODS AND RESULTS: Using a population-based sample of 16,078 patients admitted to a critical care unit with a primary diagnosis of ACS (n=14,610) or HF (n=1467) between April 1, 2003 and March 31, 2013 in Alberta, Canada, we stratified hospitals into high ( > 250), medium (200 to 250), or low ( < 200) volume based on their annual volume of all ACS and HF hospitalization. The percentage of hospitalized patients admitted to critical care units varied across low, medium, and high-volume hospitals for both ACS and HF as follows: 77.9%, 81.3%, and 76.3% (P < 0.001), and 18.0%, 16.3%, and 13.0% (P < 0.001), respectively. Compared to low-volume units, critical care patients with ACS and HF admitted to high-volume hospitals had shorter mean critical care stays (56.6 versus 95.6 hours, P < 0.001), more critical care procedures (1.9 versus 1.2 per patient, < 0.001), and higher resource-intensive weighting (2.8 versus 1.5, P < 0.001). No differences in in-hospital mortality (5.5% versus 6.2%, adjusted odds ratio 0.93; 95% CI, 0.61 to 1.41) were observed between high- and low-volume hospitals; however, 30-day cardiovascular readmissions (4.6% versus 6.8%, odds ratio 0.77; 95% CI, 0.60 to 0.99) and cardiovascular emergency-room visits (6.6% versus 9.5%, odds ratio 0.80; 95% CI, 0.69 to 0.94) were lower in high-volume compared to low-volume hospitals. Outcomes stratified by ACS or HF admission diagnosis were similar. CONCLUSIONS: Cardiac patients hospitalized in low-volume hospitals were more frequently admitted to critical care units and had longer hospitals stays despite lower resource-intensive weighting. These findings may provide opportunities to standardize critical care utilization for ACS and HF patients across high- and low-volume hospitals.
van Diepen, S., Bakal, J. A., Lin, M., Kaul, P., McAlister, F. A., & Ezekowitz, J. A. (2015). Variation in critical care unit admission rates and outcomes for patients with acute coronary syndromes or heart failure among high- and low-volume cardiac hospitals. Journal of the American Heart Association, 4(3), e001708. https://doi.org/10.1161/JAHA.114.001708