A Protocol for Reducing Intensive Care Utilization After Craniotomy: A 3-Year Assessment. Neurosurgery Ruiz Colón, G. D., Ohkuma, R., Pendharkar, A. V., Heifets, B. D., Li, G., Lu, A., Gephart, M. H., Ratliff, J. K. 2023


Craniotomy patients have traditionally received intensive care unit (ICU) care postoperatively. Our institution developed the "Non-Intensive CarE" (NICE) protocol to identify craniotomy patients who did not require postoperative ICU care.To determine the longitudinal impact of the NICE protocol on postoperative length of stay (LOS), ICU utilization, readmissions, and complications.In this retrospective cohort study, our institution's electronic medical record was queried to identify craniotomies before protocol deployment (May 2014-May 2018) and after deployment (May 2018-December 2021). The primary end points were average postoperative LOS and ICU utilization; secondary end points included readmissions, reoperation, and postoperative complications rate. End points were compared between pre- and postintervention cohorts.Four thousand eight hundred thirty-seven craniotomies were performed from May 2014 to December 2021 (2302 preprotocol and 2535 postprotocol). Twenty-one percent of postprotocol craniotomies were enrolled in the NICE protocol. After protocol deployment, the overall postoperative LOS decreased from 4.0 to 3.5 days (P = .0031), which was driven by deceased postoperative LOS among protocol patients (average 2.4 days). ICU utilization decreased from 57% of patients to 42% (P < .0001), generating ~$760?000 in savings. Return to the ICU and complications decreased after protocol deployment. 5.8% of protocol patients had a readmission within 30 days; none could have been prevented through ICU stay.The NICE protocol is an effective, sustainable method to increase ICU bed availability and decrease costs without changing outcomes. To our knowledge, this study features the largest series of patients enrolling in an ICU utilization reduction protocol. Careful patient selection is a requirement for the success of this approach.

View details for DOI 10.1227/neu.0000000000002337

View details for PubMedID 36639854