Background Long-term weakness and disability are common after an intensive care unit (ICU) stay. Usual care in the ICU prevents most patients from receiving preventative early mobilization.
Objective The study objective was to describe a quality improvement project established by a physical therapist at the University of California San Francisco Medical Center from 2009 to 2011. The goal of the program was to reduce patients' ICU length of stay by increasing the number of patients in the ICU receiving physical therapy and decreasing the time from ICU admission to physical therapy initiation.
Design This study was a 9-month retrospective analysis of a quality improvement project.
Methods An interprofessional ICU Early Mobilization Group established and promoted guidelines for mobilizing patients in the ICU. A physical therapist was dedicated to a 16-bed medical-surgical ICU to provide physical therapy to selected patients within 48 hours of ICU admission. Patients receiving early physical therapy intervention in the ICU in 2010 were compared with patients receiving physical therapy under usual care practice in the same ICU in 2009.
Results From 2009 to 2010, the number of patients receiving physical therapy in the ICU increased from 179 to 294. The median times (interquartile ranges) from ICU admission to physical therapy evaluation were 3 days (9 days) in 2009 and 1 day (2 days) in 2010. The ICU length of stay decreased by 2 days, on average, and the percentage of ambulatory patients discharged to home increased from 55% to 77%.
Limitations This study relied upon the retrospective analysis of data from 6 collectors, and the intervention lacked physical therapy coverage for 7 days per week.
Conclusions The improvements in outcomes demonstrated the value and feasibility of a physical therapist–led early mobilization program.
Dr Engel provided concept/idea/research design and project management. Dr Engel, Mr Alonzo, and Dr Rivera provided writing. Dr Engel, Mr Tatebe, Mr Alonzo, and Ms Mustille provided data collection. All authors provided data analysis. Mr Tatebe, Mr Alonzo, and Ms Mustille provided clerical support. Mr Tatebe, Mr Alonzo, Ms Mustille, and Dr Rivera provided consultation (including review of manuscript before submission).
This article originally was an invited manuscript for the Special Series on Rehabilitation for People With Critical Illness, which was published in the December 2012 and February 2013 issues of Physical Therapy.
- Received November 18, 2011.
- Accepted April 2, 2013.
- © 2013 American Physical Therapy Association