Death can result from many factors other than ineffective care. The outcome of intensive care depends not only on the inputs available (e.g. equipment, staff) and the processes of care (e.g. type of care, skill and timing with which care is administered), but also on the case mix of the patients treated.
Patients are admitted for intensive care for a wide range of clinical indications, and it is necessary to consider both the nature of the current crisis and the underlying disease. Some patients are admitted with substantially greater risk of death than others, so that intensive care units (ICUs) admitting greater proportions of high-risk patients would be expected to have higher mortality. An ICU in a large tertiary care center may have a very different patient population from an ICU based in a district general hospital.
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