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Surviving Intensive Care: A Systematic Review of Healthcare Resource Use After Hospital Discharge*

Lone, Nazir I. MBChB, MSc1,2; Seretny, Marta MSc2; Wild, Sarah H. PhD, FRCP1; Rowan, Kathryn M. DPhil3; Murray, Gordon D. PhD, FRSE1; Walsh, Timothy S. MD, FRCA3

doi: 10.1097/CCM.0b013e31828a409c
Feature Articles

Objectives: Intensive care survivors continue to experience significant morbidity following acute hospital discharge, but healthcare costs associated with this ongoing morbidity are poorly described. As the demand for intensive care increases, understanding the magnitude of postacute hospital healthcare costs is of increasing relevance to clinicians and healthcare planners. We undertook a systematic review of the literature reporting major healthcare resource use by intensive care survivors following discharge from the hospital and identified factors associated with increased resource use.

Data Sources: Seven electronic databases (1990 to August 2012), conference proceedings, and reference lists were searched.

Study Selection: Studies published in English were included that reported postacute hospital discharge healthcare resource use at the individual level for survivors of intensive care.

Data Extraction: Two reviewers screened abstracts and one abstracted data using standardized templates. Study quality was assessed using recognized appraisal methods specific to economic evaluation, epidemiological studies, and randomized trials.

Data Synthesis: From 4,909 articles, 18 articles representing 14 cohorts fulfilled inclusion criteria. There was substantial variation in methodology, especially the resource categories included in the studies. Following standardization to a common currency and year, variation in cost of resource use was evident (range 2011 US $18,847–$148,454 for year 1 postdischarge). Studies undertaken within the United States reported the highest costs; those in the United Kingdom reported substantially lower costs. Factors associated with increased resource use included increasing age, comorbidities, organ dysfunction score, and previous resource use.

Conclusions: Wide variation in methodological approaches limited study comparability and external validity of findings. We found substantial variation in the cost of resource use, especially among countries. Careful description of patient cohorts and healthcare systems is required to maximize generalizability. We give recommendations for a more standardized approach to improve design and reporting of future studies.

Supplemental Digital Content is available in the text.

1Centre for Population Health Sciences, University of Edinburgh, United Kingdom.

2Department of Critical Care, Centre for Inflammation Research, Queen’s Medical Research Institute, University of Edinburgh, United Kingdom.

3Intensive Care National Audit & Research Centre (ICNARC), London, United Kingdom.

*See also p. 2030.

Supplemental digital content is available for this article. Direct URL citations appear in the printed text and are provided in the HTML and PDF versions of this article on the journal’s website (

Dr. Lone was funded by a Fellowship from the Chief Scientist Office, United Kingdom. The remaining authors have disclosed that they do not have any potential conflict of interest.

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© 2013 by the Society of Critical Care Medicine and Lippincott Williams & Wilkins