How does care differ for neurological patients admitted to a neurocritical care unit versus a general ICU?

Pedro Kurtz, Vincent Fitts, Zeynep Sumer, Hillary Jalon, Joseph Cooke, Vladimir Kvetan, Stephan A. Mayer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

74 Scopus citations


Background Neurological patients have lower mortality and better outcomes when cared for in specialized neurointensive care units than in general ICUs. However, little is known about how the process of care differs between these types of units. Methods The Greater New York Hospital Association conducted a city-wide 24-h ICU prevalence survey on March 15th, 2007. Data was collected on all patients admitted to 143 ICUs in 69 different hospitals. Results Of 1,906 ICU patients surveyed, 231 had a primary neurological diagnosis. Of these, 52 (22%) were admitted to one of 9 neuro-ICU's in NY and 179 (78%) to a medical or surgical ICU. Neurological patients in neuro-ICUs were more likely to have been transferred from an outside hospital (37% vs. 11%, P < 0.0001). Hemorrhagic stroke was more frequent in neuro-ICUs (46% vs. 16%, P < 0.0001), whereas traumatic brain injury (2% vs. 24%, P < 0.0001) and ischemic stroke (0% vs. 19%, P = 0.001) were less common. Despite a lower rate of mechanical ventilation (39% vs. 50%, P = 0.15), ICU length of stay was longer in neuro-ICU patients (≥10 days, 40% vs. 17%, P < 0.0001). More neuro-ICU patients had undergone tracheostomy (35% vs. 15%, P = 0.04), invasive hemodynamic monitoring (40% vs. 20%, P = 0.002), and invasive intracranial pressure monitoring (29% vs. 9%, P < 0.001) than patients cared for in general ICUs. Intravenous sedation was less prevalent in neuro-ICUs (12% vs. 30%, P = 0.009) and more patients were receiving nutritional support compared to general ICUs (67% vs. 39%, P < 0.001). Conclusions Neurological patients cared for in specialty neuro-ICUs underwent more invasive intracranial and hemodynamic monitoring, tracheostomy, and nutritional support, and received less IV sedation than patients in general ICUs. These differences in care may explain previously observed disparities in outcome between neurocritical care and general ICUs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)477-480
Number of pages4
JournalNeurocritical Care
Issue number3
StatePublished - Dec 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • Neurocritical care
  • Outcomes research

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Critical Care and Intensive Care Medicine


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