Physician staffing models and patient safety in the ICU.

Research paper by Ognjen O Gajic, Bekele B Afessa

Indexed on: 08 Apr '09Published on: 08 Apr '09Published in: CHEST®


Despite the manpower shortage to care for the critically ill, the number of ICU beds has been rising for the last 2 decades. The ICU intensivist physician staffing model is still in flux in this country. Despite a challenge by a recent single publication, numerous studies have shown that high-intensity intensivist staffing improves patient outcome in the ICU. However, 73% of the ICUs in this country provide low-intensity or no intensive care coverage. Although it may not be possible to implement 24 h/d intensivist coverage of all ICUs at this time, we believe it is the best model for achieving good patient outcome. The mere presence of intensivists in the ICU is unlikely to improve patient outcome unless it is associated with the creation of an organizational environment ideal for the implementation of evidence-based practice. In this commentary, we will discuss the available evidence behind the current models and express our opinions about current and future ICU intensivist staffing.