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A study of medical in-patients reveals a high number with organ failure


To investigate the number of patients on the general medical wards who fulfill the current UK National Health Service Executive (NHSE) criteria for admission to a high dependency unit (HDU) [1].

Design, subjects and methods

On one day, a detailed survey of 174 patients already admitted to nine medical wards was performed. Demographical data, the function of six organs as assessed by the Sepsis-related Organ Failure Assessment (SOFA) score plus the level of interventions using the Therapeutic Intervention Scoring System (TISS) was recorded.


See table.


This study suggests that 16% of patients on general medical wards fulfilled the UK NHSE guidelines for admission to High Dependency Care [1]. Currently there are no recommendations regarding the size of these units and these data suggest that the resource implications would be considerable. However the benefits for patients of this higher level of care has yet to be scientifically established but many institutions already recommend it to reduce morbidity and mortality [2].

Table 1 Table (abstract P031)


  1. NHSE: Guidelines on admission to... from intensive care & HDUs. March. 1996, Brussels, Belgium. 18-21 March 1997

  2. ICS: The Intensive Care Service in the UK. May. 1990, Brussels, Belgium. 18-21 March 1997

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Lamb, F., Rhodes, A., Rheinhart, A. et al. A study of medical in-patients reveals a high number with organ failure. Crit Care 1 (Suppl 1), P031 (1997).

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