The association between outcome-based quality indicators for intensive care units

Ilona W M Verburg, Evert de Jonge, Niels Peek, Nicolette F de Keizer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


PURPOSE: To assess and improve the effectiveness of ICU care, in-hospital mortality rates are often used as principal quality indicator for benchmarking purposes. Two other often used, easily quantifiable, quality indicators to assess the efficiency of ICU care are based on readmission to the ICU and ICU length of stay. Our aim was to examine whether there is an association between case-mix adjusted outcome-based quality indicators in the general ICU population as well as within specific subgroups.

MATERIALS AND METHODS: We included patients admitted in 2015 of all Dutch ICUs. We derived the standardized in-hospital mortality ratio (SMR); the standardized readmission ratio (SRR); and the standardized length of stay ratio (SLOSR). We expressed association through Pearson's correlation coefficients.

RESULTS: The SMR ranged from 0.6 to 1.5; the SRR ranged from 0.7 to 2.1; and the SLOSR ranged from 0.7 to 1.3. For the total ICU population we found no significant associations. We found a positive, non-significant, association between SMR and SLOSR for admissions with low-mortality risk, (r = 0.25; p = 0.024), and a negative association between these indicators for admissions with high-mortality risk (r = -0.49; p<0.001).

CONCLUSION: Overall, we found no association at ICU population level. Differential associations were found between performance on mortality and length of stay within different risk strata. We recommend users of quality information to take these three outcome indicators into account when benchmarking ICUs as they capture different aspects of ICU performance. Furthermore, we suggest to report quality indicators for patient subgroups.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)e0198522
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number6
Early online date13 Jun 2018
Publication statusPublished - 2018


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