Association of patient-to-intensivist ratio with hospital mortality in Australia and New Zealand

Hayley B. Gershengorn, David V. Pilcher, Edward Litton, Matthew Anstey, Allan Garland, Hannah Wunsch

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: The impact of intensivist workload on intensive care unit (ICU) outcomes is incompletely described and assessed across healthcare systems and countries. We sought to examine the association of patient-to-intensivist ratio (PIR) with hospital mortality in Australia/New Zealand (ANZ) ICUs. Methods: We conducted a retrospective study of adult admissions to ANZ ICUs (August 2016–June 2018) using two cohorts: “narrow”, based on previously used criteria including restriction to ICUs with a single daytime intensivist; and “broad”, refined by individual ICU daytime staffing information. The exposure was average daily PIR and the outcome was hospital mortality. We used summary statistics to describe both cohorts and multilevel multivariable logistic regression models to assess the association of PIR with mortality. In each, PIR was modeled using restricted cubic splines to allow for non-linear associations. The broad cohort model included non-PIR physician and non-physician staffing covariables. Results: The narrow cohort of 27,380 patients across 67 ICUs (predicted mortality: median 1.2% [IQR 0.4–1.4%]; mean 5.9% [sd 13.2%]) had a median PIR of 10.1 (IQR 7–14). The broad cohort of 91,206 patients across 73 ICUs (predicted mortality: 1.9% [0.6–6.5%]; 7.6% [14.9%]) had a median PIR of 7.8 (IQR 5.8–10.2). We found no association of PIR with mortality in either the narrow (PIR 1st spline term odds ratio [95% CI]: 1 [0.94, 1.06], Wald testing of spline terms p = 0.61) or the broad (1.02 [0.97, 1.07], p = 0.4) cohort. Conclusion: We found no association of PIR with hospital mortality across ANZ ICUs. The low cohort predicted mortality may limit external validity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalIntensive Care Medicine
StateAccepted/In press - 2021


  • Census
  • Intensive care unit
  • Intensivist
  • Mortality
  • Patient-to-intensivist ratio
  • Workload

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Critical Care and Intensive Care Medicine


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