, Volume 36, Issue 4, pp 673-679
Date: 09 Feb 2010

Are small hospitals with small intensive care units able to treat patients with severe sepsis?

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To find out whether mortality from sepsis is influenced by the size of the hospital and of the intensive care unit (ICU).


In the Finnsepsis study, 470 patients with severe sepsis were identified. The present study is a retrospective subgroup analysis of the Finnsepsis study. Eighteen patients were excluded because of treatment in more than one ICU. We divided the 24 units into three groups based on hospital size and academic status.


There were no significant differences between the ICU groups in terms of severity of illness. Overall, the hospital mortality rate was 29.2%. In post-operative patients, the hospital mortality rate was 22.9% for patients treated in large ICUs (including university and large non-university hospital ICUs) but 42.3% for patients treated in small ICUs (p = 0.045). In medical patients, no differences in outcomes were found.


Treatment of surgical patients with severe sepsis in small ICUs was associated with increased mortality. Because of the relatively small sample size, further studies are needed to confirm or refute this association.

For the Finnsepsis Study Group.