Trauma centers with dedicated trauma intensive care units (TICUs) have recently been developed in South Korea. It is hypothesized that TICU nurse staffing is driven not only by the number of patients but also by the work intensity. This study aims to compare nursing workload characteristics between TICUs and non-TICUs.
A 1-year retrospective study was performed in one TICU and five non-TICUs in a single trauma center from September 2014 to August 2015. Demographic data were collected along with nursing workload characteristics using the Workload Management System of Critical Care Nurses (WMSCN) score.
A total of 332 trauma patients in the TICU and 2,346 nontrauma patients in non-TICUs were studied. TICU patients were younger (49.27 vs. 60.44, p < .001) and more frequently male (75.6% vs. 24.4%, p < .001). The most common admission reasons were motor vehicle crash (38.6%) and cardiovascular conditions (24.9%). Both intensive care unit and hospital length of stay were longer in TICU patients (12.72 vs. 5.43, p < .001; and 35.61 vs. 18.16, p < .001), whereas the mortality rates in the TICU were lower (11.1% vs. 15.1%, p < .001). Total WMSCN scores were significantly higher in the TICU (115.99 vs. 110.19; p < .001).
This study found that nursing workload or work intensity was significantly higher in the TICU than in non-TICUs. Further multicenter studies using objective medical severity scores are warranted.