Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Predicting future demand for adult general critical care in the UK

Demand for intensive care beds has been rising over time but recent research indicates that the need for beds could increase dramatically. Visiting academic Professor Kathy Rowan presented her research on predicted growth rates of intensive care patients in the United Kingdom health service based on current trends.

Kathy is a health services researcher who, in 1994, established the Intensive Care National Audit & Research Centre (ICNARC). ICNARC’s aim is to enhance the organisation and practice of critical care (intensive and high dependency care), through a broad programme of comparative audit and evaluative research, in order to improve patient care, experiences and outcomes.
The modelling takes into account the increase in the population as well as demographic changes, such as an increasing amount of elderly patients. The data analysis included the number of days in ICU combined with the level of care needed.
The results were startling; with some models predicting that an extra 1,000 intensive care beds could be required within the decade.
The research is not without its caveats: it is based on patients that can access the ICU beds available, not necessarily all patients who would qualify for ICU treatment. It also does not take into account co-morbidities such as the current obesity epidemic and predicted rises in liver disease. Both of these factors could lead to further increases in the need for ICU services, and whilst the research is not yet published, it should begin a thought-provoking discussion into future public health demands.

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