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We examined the current incidence, type, severity and preventability of iatrogenic events associated with intensive care unit admission in five hospitals in England. All unplanned adult admissions to intensive care units were prospectively reviewed over a continuous six-week period. In the week before admission, 76/280 patients (27%) experienced 104 iatrogenic events. The majority of iatrogenic events were categorised as medical (37%), drug (17%) or nursing events (17%). Seventy-seven per cent of the events were considered preventable and 80% caused or contributed to admission. Eleven events were thought to have contributed to a patient's death. The mean (SD) age of patients who had an event was greater (63 (21) years) than those who had not (57 (19) years, p = 0.023), and they had a longer median (IQR [range]) intensive care stay, 4 (1-8 [0-29]) days vs 3 (1-5 [0-20]) days, respectively, p = 0.043.

Original publication




Journal article



Publication Date





137 - 142


Adult, Age Factors, Aged, England, Humans, Iatrogenic Disease, Incidence, Intensive Care Units, Length of Stay, Medical Errors, Middle Aged, Patient Admission, Prospective Studies, Quality of Health Care, Risk Factors