While structures of intensive care medicine in Austria are well defined, data on organisational and medical practice in intensive care units (ICUs) have not been systematically evaluated.
In this explorative survey, organisational and medical details of ICUs in Austria were collected using an online questionnaire consisting of 147 questions.
Out of 249 registered ICUs 73 (29.3%) responded, 60 were adult, 10 pediatric/neonatal ICUs and 19, 25 and 16 ICUs were located in level I, II and III hospitals, respectively. Of the respondents 89% reported that the ICU director was board-certified in intensive care medicine. Consultants were constantly present in 78% of ICUs during routine working hours and in 45% during nights and weekends. The nurse:bed ratio varied between 1:1 and 1:2 in 74% during day shifts and 60% during night shifts. Routine physiotherapist rounds were reported to take place daily except weekends in 67% of ICUs. Common monitoring techniques were reported to be in routine or occasional use in 85% and 83% of ICUs, respectively. The majority of ICUs provided daily visiting hours ranging between 2–12 h. Waiting rooms for relatives were available in 66% and an electronic documentation system in 66% of ICUs. Written protocols were available in 70% of ICUs.
The Austrian ICU survey suggests that ICUs in Austria are clearly structured, well-organized and well-equipped and have a high nurse:bed ratio. In view of the relatively low return rate we cannot exclude that a selection bias has led to overestimation of the survey findings.