A new study of electronic intensive care units (eICUs) shows them to be an effective way to provide 24-hour intensive care to patients in remote locations. The study was presented at CHEST 2013, the annual meeting of the American College of Chest Physicians (ACCP).
An eICU uses telecommunications technology to diagnose and treat patients in the ICU remotely. Using two-way cameras, video monitors, microphones, and alarms to provide round-the-clock care for patients in ICUs, eICUs can provide care to patients in multiple hospitals, using the skills of intensive care physicians, called intensivists, and intensive care nurses.
Researchers at Northside Medical Center in Ohio studied results of interactions with 2,537 patients admitted to ICUs over a period of 2 years. Of these interactions, 1,310 patients were without eICU monitoring and 1,227 were monitored with eICU in addition to in-house monitoring of medical staff.
The eICU used intensivists and other health-care providers to give continuous monitoring and management from a remote location in two adult ICUs of a 375-bed community teaching hospital in the United States. Results were taken on the rate of falls, incidents of code blues, mortalities, and length of stays between the two periods before and after implementation of the eICU.
Specific outcomes encountered by patients with normal vs eICU monitoring showed code blues 54 vs 39, falls 1 vs 0, and overall mortality 90 vs 77. The median length of stay was 3.1 days without eICU monitoring and 3 days with eICU monitoring.
"Provision of high level intensive care in remote locations is challenging and e-ICU offers a unique approach to addressing this need," said Curtis Sessler, MD, FCCP and president-designate of the ACCP. "While the favorable trends in selected outcomes were encouraging, larger and more comprehensive studies are needed."
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