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Invited Commentary
October 2016

In Between the Intensive Care Unit and the Ward

Author Affiliations
  • 1Critical Care Medicine Service, Department of Anesthesiology and Critical Care Medicine, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, New York, New York
  • 2Weill Cornell Medical College, New York, New York
JAMA Intern Med. 2016;176(10):1499-1500. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2016.4313

The number of intensive care unit (ICU) beds in the United States has continued to increase over the last 3 decades, as have ICU utilization rates and costs,1,2 and this despite the lack of any federal, regional, or critical care society mandates to justify these increases. Some experts believe that the increase in the number of ICU beds has led to inappropriate use of these beds by patients who are either too healthy or too sick to benefit from intensive care.3,4 This may in part explain the stable national ICU occupancy rate of approximately 68% between 1985 and 2010 and suggests that ICU utilization has simply risen to meet the increased number of beds.1,2