Characteristics of physiotherapy staffing levels and caseload: a cross-sectional survey of Chilean adult Intensive Care Units

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Publication details

DateAccepted/In press - 21 Jan 2019
DatePublished (current) - 26 Feb 2019
Issue number3
Original languageEnglish


Introduction: The European Society of Intensive Care Medicine recommends the presence of a specialist physiotherapist, available every five beds, seven days a week in the high complexity Intensive Care Unit. However, in Chile the adherence of adult Intensive Care Units to this recommendation is unknown.

Objective: To describe the organizational characteristics and the physiotherapist availability in adult Intensive Care Units in Chile, and according to the adherence to international recommendations, inform health decision-makers.

Methods: Observational study based on a telephone survey. All adult Intensive Care Units institutions of high complexity, private hospitals and teaching health centers in Chile were eligible (n = 74). The primary outcome measures were the proportion of institutions with physiotherapist availability 24 hours a day and seven days a week (24/7 physiotherapist), a maximum caseload per physiotherapist of five patients and the presence of a specialist physiotherapist.

Results: Response rate was 86.5%, with 59% of responding units being public and 83% offering level III care. 70% of the adult Intensive Care Units in Chile have 24/7 physiotherapist (87% of the public and 46% of the private sector). 41% of the centers had a maximum caseload per physiotherapist of five patients during the day on weekdays. This number decreased on weekends and during night shifts. 23% of the Intensive Care Units had a specialist physiotherapist, being more common in the private sector (31%).

Conclusions: In Chilean adult ICU, 24/7 physiotherapist availability is high, the prevalence of physiotherapists with specialist training is low. Future efforts should focus on promoting the uptake of specialist training.

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