Patients denied intensive care more likely to die

Patients who are refused admission to an intensive care unit (ICU) are 10% more likely to die within 90 days of being referred than patients who were admitted to an ICU, according to a study published in the July 5, 1997, issue of The Lancet.

The study, conducted by researchers at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, examined the practices of six London intensive care units over the course of three months. During that time, 480 adults were newly admitted to an ICU, while 165 were denied admission. Of those admitted, 37% died within 90 days of their referral, while 46% of those refused admission died.

The study’s authors state that it’s unclear whether increasing the number of ICU beds would help to rectify the problem. They argue that what’s needed is "more appropriate admission and discharge criteria."