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Introduction: Bed rest or immobilization is frequently part of treatment for patients in the intensive care unit with critical illness. The average intensive care unit length of stay was 3.3 days and for every day spent in an intensive care unit bed, the average patient spent an additional 1.5 days in a non-intensive care unit bed. Daily costs have increased more than 30% from 2000-2005 with an average daily cost of $3518. Weaning from mechanical ventilation has been correlated with increased intensive care unit and hospital length of stay. Mechanical ventilation has been correlated with the development of intensive care unit-acquired weakness and delirium. The purpose of this research was to analyze the effects of early mobilization for patients in the intensive care unit to determine if it has an impact on the length of stay, cost of care and medical complications.

Methodology: The methodology for this study was a literature review. Five electronic data bases were utilized with 27 articles were referenced for this research.

Results: Intensive care unit length of stay was reduced with statistical significance in several studies examining early mobilization. Limited research on cost of intensive care unit stay indicated savings potential with early mobilization. Early mobilization was shown to decrease delirium by 2 days, reduce risk of readmission or death, and reduce ventilator assisted pneumonia, central line and catheter infections.

Discussion/Conclusion: Early mobilization for decreased length of stay in the intensive care unit exhibited mixed results. When implementing early mobilization in the intensive care unit, total costs were shown to decrease and fewer medical complications were noted. Early mobilization should become a standard of care for critically ill, but stable patients in the intensive care unit.


2014 Best Paper Award in the Healthcare Management track. Copyright © 2014 Business and Health Administration Association. Printed with permission. All rights reserved.