A Minority of Patients on Mechanical Ventilation Consume Disproportionate Resources

A Retrospective Cohort Study
Published:November 27, 2020DOI:


      The Pareto principle states that the majority of any effect comes from a minority of the causes. This property is widely used in quality improvement science.

      Research Question

      Among patients requiring mechanical ventilation (MV), are there subgroups according to MV duration that may serve as potential nodes for high-value interventions aimed at reducing costs without compromising quality?

      Study Design and Methods

      This multicenter retrospective cohort study included approximately 780 hospitals in the Premier Research Database (2014-2018). Patients receiving MV were identified by using International Classification of Diseases, Ninth Revision, Clinical Modification, and International Classification of Diseases, Tenth Revision, codes. They were then divided into quintiles according to MV duration; their hospital costs, post-MV onset length of stay (LOS), ICU LOS, and cumulative post-MV onset hospital days per quintile were compared.


      A total of 691,961 patients were included in the analysis. Median [interquartile range] duration of MV in days by quintile was as follows: quintile 1 (Q1), 1 [1, 1]; Q2, 2 [2, 2]; Q3, 3 [3, 3]; Q4, 6 [6, 7]; and Q5, 13 [10, 19]. Median [interquartile range] post-MV onset LOS (Q1, 2 [0, 5]; Q5, 17 [12, 26]) and hospital costs (Q1, $15,671 [$9,180, $27,901]; Q5, $70,133 [$47,136, $108,032]) rose from Q1 through Q5. Patients in Q5 consumed 47.7% of all post-MV initiation hospital days among all patients requiring MV, and the mean per-patient hospital costs in Q5 exceeded the sum of costs incurred by Q1 to Q3. Adjusted marginal mean (95% CI) hospital costs rose exponentially from Q1 through Q5: Q2 vs Q1, $3,976 ($3,354, $4,598); Q3 vs Q2, $5,532 ($5,103, $5,961); Q4 vs Q3, $11,705 ($11,071, $12,339); and Q5 vs Q4, $26,416 ($25,215, $27,616).


      Patients undergoing MV in the highest quintiles according to duration of MV consume a disproportionate amount of resources, as evidenced by MV duration, hospital LOS, and costs, making them a potential target for streamlining MV care.

      Key Words


      CDI (Clostridioides difficile infection), IQR (interquartile range), LOS (length of stay), Q1 (quintile 1), SNF (skilled nursing facility), VAP (ventilator-associated pneumonia)
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