The impact of an accountable care unit on mortality: an observational study.

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J Community Hosp Intern Med Perspect


oregon; portland; psvmc


Background: Despite enthusiasm for inpatient ward redesign, coordinated models require high effort with uncertain return on investment. Objective: We aimed to reduce mortality and achieve a benchmark of zero preventable deaths by committing to an interprofessional model, including partnered nurse-physician unit leadership, geographic localization, and structured interdisciplinary bedside rounds (SIBR). Methods: An observational pre-post design with 5-year follow-up studied the transition of a medical unit to an Accountable Care Unit (ACU). This geographic model enables partnered nurse-physician leadership and patient-centered workflows, including daily interdisciplinary bedside rounds. Potentially additive or confounding hospital-wide safety initiatives were tracked. Yearly mortality was compared using multivariable logistic regression and reported as odds ratio (OR). For the pre-specified goal of no preventable deaths, we report unexpected deaths, defined as those occurring without documentation of comfort as the goal of care. Results: 12,158 inpatients (55.1% female, mean [sd] age 62.2 [19.7]) were observed over 6 years. Reduction in the risk-adjusted mortality was observed following ACU implementation, with Year 2 significantly lower than the pre-implementation year (adjusted odds ratio [aOR] = 0.58 [0.35-0.94]). Risk-adjusted mortality was similar in Year 3 (aOR = 0.64 [0.39-1.0]) but returned to baseline for Years 4 and 5. Unexpected deaths reached zero in Year 3 and plateaued in Years 4 and 5 at a rate below pre-implementation year (~0.1% vs. 0.38%). Conclusions: A geographic ACU with nurse-physician partnered leadership and daily structured interdisciplinary bedside rounds can reduce total and unexpected mortality. However, maintenance requires constant effort and, in the real world, multiple confounders complicate study.


Graduate Medical Education




Internal Medicine