Introduction of a Post-Anaesthesia Care Unit in a Teaching Hospital Is Associated with a Reduced Length of Hospital Stay in Noncardiac Surgery: A Single-Centre Interrupted Time Series Analysis

Nick J. Koning, Joost L. C. Lokin, Lian Roovers, Jan Willem Kallewaard, Wim H. van Harten, Cor J. Kalkman, Benedikt Preckel

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Background: A post-anaesthesia care unit (PACU) may improve postoperative care compared with intermediate care units (IMCU) due to its dedication to operative care and an individualized duration of postoperative stay. The effects of transition from IMCU to PACU for postoperative care following intermediate to high-risk noncardiac surgery on length of hospital stay, intensive care unit (ICU) utilization, and postoperative complications were investigated. Methods: This single-centre interrupted time series analysis included patients undergoing eleven different noncardiac surgical procedures associated with frequent postoperative admissions to an IMCU or PACU between January 2018 and March 2019 (IMCU episode) and between October 2019 and December 2020 (PACU episode). Primary outcome was hospital length of stay, secondary outcomes included postoperative complications and ICU admissions. Results: In total, 3300 patients were included. The hospital length of stay was lower following PACU admission compared to IMCU admission (IMCU 7.2 days [4.2–12.0] vs. PACU 6.0 days [3.6–9.1]; p < 0.001). Segmented regression analysis demonstrated that the introduction of the PACU was associated with a decrease in hospital length of stay (GMR 0.77 [95% CI 0.66–0.91]; p = 0.002). No differences between episodes were detected in the number of postoperative complications or postoperative ICU admissions. Conclusions: The introduction of a PACU for postoperative care of patients undergoing intermediate to high-risk noncardiac surgery was associated with a reduction in the length of stay at the hospital, without increasing postoperative complications.

Original languageEnglish
Article number534
JournalJournal of clinical medicine
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2024


  • anaesthesia recovery period
  • intensive care units
  • operative
  • post-anaesthesia care unit
  • postoperative care
  • postoperative complications
  • surgical procedures

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