Intensive Care Medicine

, Volume 30, Issue 7, pp 1398–1404 | Cite as

Introducing Critical Care Outreach: a ward-randomised trial of phased introduction in a general hospital

  • George Priestley
  • Wendy Watson
  • Arash Rashidian
  • Caroline MozleyEmail author
  • Daphne Russell
  • Jonathan Wilson
  • Judith Cope
  • Dianne Hart
  • Diana Kay
  • Karen Cowley
  • Jayne Pateraki



The purpose of the study was to investigate the effects of introducing a critical care outreach service on in-hospital mortality and length of stay in a general acute hospital.


A pragmatic ward-randomised trial design was used, with intervention introduced to all wards in sequence. No blinding was possible.


Sixteen adult wards in an 800-bed general hospital in the north of England.

Patients and participants

All admissions to the 16 surgical, medical and elderly care wards during 32-week study period were included (7450 patients in total, of whom 2903 were eligible for the primary comparison).


Essential elements of the Critical Care Outreach service introduced during the study were a nurse-led team of nurses and doctors experienced in critical care, a 24-h service, emphasis on education, support and practical help for ward staff.

Measurements and results

The main outcome measures were in-hospital mortality and length of stay. Outreach intervention reduced in-hospital mortality compared with control (two-level odds ratio: 0.52 (95% CI 0.32–0.85). A possible increased length of stay associated with outreach was not fully supported by confirmatory and sensitivity analyses.


The study suggests outreach reduces mortality in general hospital wards. It may also increase length of stay, but our findings on this are equivocal.


Critical care Intensive care Hospital mortality Length of stay 



We thank the following people for their support for this study: K. Martin, K. Harrison, H. Paw, G. Cundill, M. Reeder, I. Woods, C. Barr, M. Clubbs, J. Miles, M. Yang, G. Dunn and E. Grant. This work was supported by the York Research Innovation Fund (York Hospitals NHS Trust).

Supplementary material

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • George Priestley
    • 1
  • Wendy Watson
    • 1
  • Arash Rashidian
    • 1
    • 2
  • Caroline Mozley
    • 1
    Email author
  • Daphne Russell
    • 3
  • Jonathan Wilson
    • 1
  • Judith Cope
    • 1
  • Dianne Hart
    • 1
  • Diana Kay
    • 1
  • Karen Cowley
    • 1
  • Jayne Pateraki
    • 1
  1. 1.York Hospitals NHS TrustYorkUK
  2. 2.London School of Hygiene and Tropical MedicineLondonUK
  3. 3.University of WalesBangorWales

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