BACKGROUND: Predicting future demand for intensive care is vital to planning the allocation of resources.
METHOD: Mathematical modelling using the autoregressive integrated moving average (ARIMA) was applied to intensive care data from the Australian and New Zealand Intensive Care Society (ANZICS) Core Database and population projections from the Australian Bureau of Statistics to forecast future demand in Australian intensive care.
RESULTS: The model forecasts an increase in ICU demand of over 50% by 2020, with current total ICU bed-days (in 2007) of 471 358, predicted to increase to 643 160 by 2020. An increased rate of ICU use by patients older than 80 years was also noted, with the average bed-days per 10 000 population for this group increasing from 396 in 2006 to 741 in 2007.
CONCLUSION: An increase in demand of the forecast magnitude could not be accommodated within current ICU capacity. Significant action will be required.
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