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Year : 2021  |  Volume : 11  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 156-160

The effect of a tiered provider staffing model on patient outcomes during the coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic: A single-center observational study

Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine, Lahey Hospital and Medical Center, Burlington, MA, USA

Correspondence Address:
Dr. James Dargin
Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine, Lahey Hospital and Medical Center, 41 Mall Road, Burlington, MA 01805
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/ijciis.ijciis_37_21

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Background: During the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, our hospital experienced a large influx of critically ill patients with acute respiratory failure. In order to increase intensive care unit (ICU) surge capacity, we adopted a “tiered model” for ICU provider staffing where multiple ICUs were staffed by noncritical care providers under the direction of an intensivist. We hypothesized that ICUs staffed with a tiered model would result in similar patient outcomes as ICU staffed with a traditional intensivist model. Methods: We performed a single-center, observational study in seven ICUs at a tertiary care center. We included consecutive adults admitted to the ICU with acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) due to COVID-19 infection. We collected baseline demographics, treatments, and outcomes of interest in traditionally staffed ICUs versus ICUs staffed with a tiered model. The primary outcome was inpatient mortality. All outcomes were censored at day 28. Results: We included a total of 138 patients in our study: 66 patients were admitted to traditionally staffed ICUs and 52 were admitted to tiered staffing ICUs. Baseline characteristics were similar between groups. ARDS treatments were similar in traditionally staffed ICUs versus tiered staffing model ICUs, including daily mean tidal volume (6.2 mL/kg vs. 6.2 mL/kg, P = 0.95), median daily fluid balance (159 mL vs. 92 mL, P = 0.54), and use of prone ventilation (58% vs. 65%, P = 0.45). There was no difference in inpatient mortality between groups (50% vs. 42%, P = 0.46). We also found no difference in ventilator-free, ICU-free, vasopressor-free, and dialysis-free days between groups. Conclusions: Our results suggest that patient outcomes are similar in ICUs with traditional staffing models when compared to ICUs with a tiered staffing mode during a pandemic.

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