Long-stay patients in the pediatric intensive care unit

James P Marcin, Anthony D. Slonim, Murray M. Pollack, Urs E. Ruttimann

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

109 Scopus citations


Objective: Length of stay in the pediatric intensive care unit (PICU) is a reflection of patient severity of illness and health status, as well as PICU quality and performance. We determined the clinical profiles and relative resource use of long-stay patients (LSPs) and developed a prediction model to identify LSPs for early quality and cost saving interventions. Design: Nonconcurrent cohort study. Setting: A total of 16 randomly selected PICUs and 16 volunteer PICUs. Patients: A total of 11,165 consecutive admissions to the 32 PICUs. Interventions: None. Measurements and Main Results: LSPs were defined as patients having a length of stay greater than the 95th percentile (>12 days). Logistic regression analysis was used to determine which clinical characteristics, available within the first 24 hrs after admission, were associated with LSPs and to create a predictive algorithm. Overall, LSPs were 4.7% of the population but represented 36.1% of the days of care. Multivariate analysis indicated that the following factors are predictive of long stays: age < 12 months, previous ICU admission, emergency admission, no CPR before admission, admission from another ICU or intermediate care unit, chronic care requirements (total parenteral nutrition and tracheostomy), specific diagnoses including acquired cardiac disease, pneumonia, and other respiratory disorders, having never been discharged from the hospital, need for ventilatory support or an intracranial catheter, and a Pediatric Risk of Mortality III score between 10 and 33. The performance of the prediction algorithm in both the training and validation samples for identifying LSPs was good for both discrimination (area under the receiver operating characteristics curve of 0.83 and 0.85, respectively), and calibration (goodness of fit, p = .33 and p = .16, respectively). LSPs comprised from 2.1% to 8.1% of individual ICU patients and occupied from 15.2% to 57.8% of individual ICU bed days. Conclusions: LSPs have less favorable outcomes and use more resources than non-LSPs. The clinical profile of LSPs includes those who are younger and those that require chronic care devices. A predictive algorithm could help identify patients at high risk of prolonged stays appropriate for specific interventions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)652-657
Number of pages6
JournalCritical Care Medicine
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2001


  • Critical care
  • Decision support
  • Intensive care
  • Length of stay
  • Long-stay patients
  • Outliers
  • Pediatric Risk of Mortality Score
  • Pediatrics
  • Prediction rules
  • Scoring systems
  • Severity of illness

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Critical Care and Intensive Care Medicine


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