Intensive Care at Home: An Opportunity or Threat


avatar Seyed Sajad Razavi 1 , avatar Mohammad Fathi 1 , avatar Mohammadreza Hajiesmaeili ORCID 1 , *

Anesthesiology Research Center, Shahid Beheshti University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran

how to cite: Razavi S S, Fathi M, Hajiesmaeili M. Intensive Care at Home: An Opportunity or Threat. Anesth Pain Med. 2016;6(2):e32902. doi: 10.5812/aapm.32902.

Although efficient hospital and intensive care unit (ICU) throughput depends upon the expeditious admission and discharge of ICU patients (1), health care systems are facing ethical challenges of caring for complex patients that are known as multimorbidity (2-8). A vast majority of patients need ICU admission; furthermore, when hospital occupancy is near its full capacity, prompt discharge of ICU patients to ward beds may not be feasible.

According to the national coalition of health care, the cost of health care in 2009 was approximately 2.5 trillion USD equal to 17.6% of the gross domestic product of the United States. The cost of caring for patients at ICUs in the United States has been estimated as 15% to 25% of all US hospital costs and from 1% to 2% of the gross national product. By 2019, these costs are expected to increase to 6% of the gross national product; an incredible 38% of the total US health-care costs (9). The annual cost of ICU hospitalization due to prolonged hospital length of stay is 33 billion USD (10).

There are patients who are no longer in the acute phase of their illness, but are not fully ready for ICU discharge. Besides, patients who are at end staged of their lives may benefit from discharging to home and continuing intensive care services at home (13). The resultant delay in ICU discharge not only artificially increase ICU occupancy rates, LOS, and costs for the patient (14, 15), and health-care system but may also impede the admission of new ICU patients, potentially increases the risk of acquiring nosocomial infections, and would postpone the initiation of rehabilitative treatments (10, 16).

This is that while professional society guidelines for ICU discharge has been written more than a decade ago but does not specifically address issues concerning ICU-to-home discharges (1, 11). In this regards, previous studies have shown that many patients experience an extended length of stay (LOS) (10) with up to 30% of LOS being deemed unnecessary (12).

Continuing intensive care services at home has several advantages, including an environment with reduced noise and night-time light favoring the return to more physiological circadian rhythms and better sleep, open visiting hours to allow unrestricted visits by relatives and friends, easier access to personal belongings, such as books, computers, tablets, TV, music players, and so on. The management of these individuals generally involves more than only expertise in mechanical ventilation, but rather an integrated approach with harmonized procedures conducted by a multidisciplinary team (11). Besides, continuing intensive care services at home should also represent a cost-effective alternative to the ICU for the management of patients’ in need.

It is important to note that policies encouraging early discharge. Besides, care services at home would require extensive assessment of both functional capacity of the patients and the skills and coping abilities of the care givers (17). This shift in care which would lead to reduction in length of hospital stay (18-21), providing a comprehensive precise and case-individual strategy, particularly for patients with several care needs. This strategy could clearly predict the final destination where patient would receive care in, determine the care-givers and the treatment team (22, 23). Thus rehabilitation process would be expedited and decision making by treatment team would be facilitated.

In addition it would help private health care agencies to plan properly and to provide suitable equipment, staff, etc (10, 19). The care previously provided by the hospital is now being provided by support agencies and/or, more importantly, by family members of the patient.

Ultimately, we suggest that intensive care services at home for patients, family members and health care staffs rather is an opportunity than a threat; extensive original and systematic reviews in this scope is necessary.


  • 1.

    Chawla S, D'Agostino RL, Pastores SM, Thirumala R, Kostelecky N, Chou JF, et al. Homeward bound: an analysis of patients discharged home from an oncologic intensive care unit. J Crit Care. 2012; 27 (6) : 681 -7 [DOI][PubMed]

  • 2.

    Onder G, Palmer K, Navickas R, Jureviciene E, Mammarella F, Strandzheva M, et al. Time to face the challenge of multimorbidity. A European perspective from the joint action on chronic diseases and promoting healthy ageing across the life cycle (JA-CHRODIS). Eur J Intern Med. 2015; 26 (3) : 157 -9 [DOI][PubMed]

  • 3.

    Eckerblad J, Theander K, Ekdahl A, Jaarsma T, Hellstrom I. To adjust and endure: a qualitative study of symptom burden in older people with multimorbidity. Appl Nurs Res. 2015; 28 (4) : 322 -7 [DOI][PubMed]

  • 4.

    Wang SB, D'Arcy C, Yu YQ, Li B, Liu YW, Tao YC, et al. Prevalence and patterns of multimorbidity in northeastern China: a cross-sectional study. Public Health. 2015; 129 (11) : 1539 -46 [DOI][PubMed]

  • 5.

    Radner H, Yoshida K, Mjaavatten MD, Aletaha D, Frits M, Lu B, et al. Development of a multimorbidity index: Impact on quality of life using a rheumatoid arthritis cohort. Semin Arthritis Rheum. 2015; 45 (2) : 167 -73 [DOI][PubMed]

  • 6.

    Hajiesmaeili M, Ardehali SH, Moosavinasab SM, Gharemani M, Hatamian S, Shabab S, et al. Respiratory Rehabilitation and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease: An Exploratory Review. Int J Med Rev. 2015; 2 (2) : 230 -7

  • 7.

    Hashemian SM, Farzanegan B, Fathi M, Ardehali SH, Vahedian-Azimi A, Asghari-Jafarabadi M, et al. Stress Among Iranian Nurses in Critical Wards. Iran Red Crescent Med J. 2015; 17 (6)[DOI][PubMed]

  • 8.

    Vahedian Azimi A, Alhani F. Educational challenges in ethical decision making in nursing. Iran J Med Ethics History Med. 2008; 1 (4) : 21 -30

  • 9.

    Lusardi P, Jodka P, Stambovsky M, Stadnicki B, Babb B, Plouffe D, et al. The going home initiative: getting critical care patients home with hospice. Crit Care Nurse. 2011; 31 (5) : 46 -57 [DOI][PubMed]

  • 10.

    Beaulieu RA, McCarthy MC, Markert RJ, Parikh PJ, Ekeh AP, Parikh PP. Predictive factors and models for trauma patient disposition. J Surg Res. 2014; 190 (1) : 264 -9 [DOI][PubMed]

  • 11.

    Navalesi P, Frigerio P, Patzlaff A, Haussermann S, Henseke P, Kubitschek M. Prolonged weaning: from the intensive care unit to home. Rev Port Pneumol. 2014; 20 (5) : 264 -72 [DOI][PubMed]

  • 12.

    Niemeijer GC, Trip A, Ahaus KT, Does RJ, Wendt KW. Quality in trauma care: improving the discharge procedure of patients by means of Lean Six Sigma. J Trauma. 2010; 69 (3) : 614 -9 [DOI][PubMed]

  • 13.

    Vahedian Azimi A, Ebadi A, Ahmadi F, Saadat S. Delirium in Prolonged Hospitalized Patients in the Intensive Care Unit. Trauma Mon. 2015; 20 (2)[DOI][PubMed]

  • 14.

    Halpern NA. Can the costs of critical care be controlled? Curr Opin Crit Care. 2009; 15 (6) : 591 -6 [DOI][PubMed]

  • 15.

    Halpern NA, Pastores SM. Critical care medicine in the United States 2000-2005: an analysis of bed numbers, occupancy rates, payer mix, and costs. Crit Care Med. 2010; 38 (1) : 65 -71 [DOI][PubMed]

  • 16.

    Cline SD, Schertz RA, Feucht EC. Expedited admission of patients decreases duration of mechanical ventilation and shortens ICU stay. Am J Emerg Med. 2009; 27 (7) : 843 -6 [DOI][PubMed]

  • 17.

    Vahedian-Azimi A, Ebadi A, Saadat S, Ahmadi F. Intelligence Care: A Nursing Care Strategy in Respiratory Intensive Care Unit. Iran Red Crescent Med J. 2015; 17 (11)[DOI][PubMed]

  • 18.

    Tanaka M, Yamamoto H, Kita T, Yokode M. Early prediction of the need for non-routine discharge planning for the elderly. Arch Gerontol Geriatr. 2008; 47 (1) : 1 -7 [DOI][PubMed]

  • 19.

    Brauer SG, Bew PG, Kuys SS, Lynch MR, Morrison G. Prediction of discharge destination after stroke using the motor assessment scale on admission: a prospective, multisite study. Arch Phys Med Rehabil. 2008; 89 (6) : 1061 -5 [DOI][PubMed]

  • 20.

    van der Zwaluw CS, Valentijn SA, Nieuwenhuis-Mark R, Rasquin SM, van Heugten CM. Cognitive functioning in the acute phase poststroke: a predictor of discharge destination? J Stroke Cerebrovasc Dis. 2011; 20 (6) : 549 -55 [DOI][PubMed]

  • 21.

    Hajiesmaeili M, Goharimoghaddam K. What is The Position of Physical and Psychological Screening Models in the Iranian Contexts? Int J Med Rev. 2015; 2 (3) : 257 -9

  • 22.

    Vahedian Azimi A, Alhani F, Ahmadi F, Kazemnejad A. Effect of family-centered empowerment model on the life style of myocardial infarction patients [in Persian]. Iran J Crit Care Nurs. 2010; 2 (4) : 1 -2

  • 23.

    Vahedian-azimi A, Alhani F, Goharimogaddam K, Madani SJ, Naderi A, Hajiesmaeili M. Effect of family-centered empowerment model on the quality of life in patients with myocardial infarction: A clinical trial study [in Persian]. J Nurs Edu. 2015; 4 (1) : 8 -22

Copyright © 2016, Iranian Society of Regional Anesthesia and Pain Medicine (ISRAPM). This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License ( which permits copy and redistribute the material just in noncommercial usages, provided the original work is properly cited.