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Table 1 Substantial differences in PACU vs. ICU treatment

From: A specialized post-anaesthetic care unit improves fast-track management in cardiac surgery: a prospective randomized trial

  PACU group ICU group
Physician-to-patient ratio 1:3 1:12
Nurse-to-patient ratio 1:3 1:2
Physicians specialisation All anaesthesiologists Diverse specialisations (for example cardiac surgeon)
Beds available 3 bed unit 21 bed unit
Opening time Limited opening time Unlimited opening, 24 hours
Patient population Only elective cardiac surgery patients after pre- and postoperative evaluation of fast-track suitability that PACU staff can focus on Mixed, as in the PACU but additionally patients in need of physicians’ attention due to multimorbidity and severe diseases (for example non-fast-track patients)
Analgesia regime Strict regime as described in method section Performed more liberally according to nurses estimation
Pain scale for pain assessment.
Timing of extubation As soon as extubation criteria were met According to physicians’ estimation under consideration of overall situation on the ICU presupposed that extubation criteria were met
Weaning protocol Performed by physician Mainly nurse-driven
Good compliance to the protocol Compliance to the weaning protocol depended on the actual workload
Stop of analgosedation Remifentanil stopped at arrival (after paracetamol and piritramid were administered Remifentanil stop according to disposition of the intensivist under consideration of overall situation on the ICU
Non-invasive ventilation Performed routinely Performed in only 4% of our population
Discharge to step-down unit. Patient were discharged to step-down unit as soon as they met discharge criteria Discharge to the step-down unit depended on need for ICU beds
  1. PACU, post-anaesthetic care unit; ICU, intensive care unit.