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BACKGROUND: Hospitalized patients who develop at least one instance of cardiorespiratory instability (CRI) have poorer outcomes. We sought to describe the admission characteristics, drivers, and time to onset of initial CRI events in monitored step-down unit (SDU) patients.
METHODS: Admission characteristics and continuous monitoring data (frequency 1/20 Hz) were recorded in 307 subjects. Vital sign deviations beyond local instability trigger threshold criteria, with a tolerance of 40 s and cumulative duration of 4 of 5 min, were classified as CRI events. The CRI driver was defined as the first vital sign to cross a threshold and meet persistence criteria. Time to onset of initial CRI was the number of days from SDU admission to initial CRI, and duration was length of the initial CRI epoch.
RESULTS: Subjects transferred to the SDU from units with higher monitoring capability were more likely to develop CRI (CRI n = 133, 44% vs no CRI n = 174, 31%, P = .042). Time to onset varied according to the CRI driver. Subjects with at least one CRI event had a longer hospital stay (CRI 11.3 ± 10.2 d vs no CRI 7.8 ± 9.2 d, P < .001) and SDU stay (CRI 6.1 ± 4.9 d vs no CRI 3.5 ± 2.9 d, P < .001). First events were more often due to SpO2, whereas breathing frequency was the most common driver of all CRI.
CONCLUSIONS: Initial CRI most commonly occurred due to SpO2 and was associated with prolonged SDU and hospital stay. Findings suggest the need for clinicians to more closely monitor SDU patients transferred from an ICU and parameters (SpO2, breathing frequency) that more commonly precede CRI events.
- Correspondence: Eliezer Bose RN PhD AGACNP-BC, School of Nursing, University of Texas at Austin, 1710 Red River Street, Austin, TX 78701. E-mail: .
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