From 2006 to 2015, there was a significant decrease in the intensive care unit (ICU) admissions among Medicare fee-for-service beneficiaries. The study was published online in the  Annals of Internal Medicine .

Researchers used data from the Medicare Provider Analysis and Review file to assess hospitalizations involving acute and ICU care between 2006 and 2015 for Medicare fee-for-service beneficiaries (aged 65 years or older).

The researchers observed a decrease in the ICU admission rate, from 6,117 per 100,000 person-years in 2006 to 4,247 per 100,000 person-years in 2015. During this period, there was also a decrease in the proportion of hospitalizations that included ICU care, from 17 to 16.3%.

There was a nearly three difference between state-level ICU admission rates in 2015, varying from 2,117 per 100,000 person-years in Hawaii to 6,312 per 100,000 person-years in Mississippi. In all states except Nebraska, ICU admission rates decreased.

The national ICU bed count increased 11.4% between 2006 and 2015, with variation between states; there was no correlation between the percentage change in ICU beds and admission across states.

The United States has more ICU beds per capita than many peer nations; however, bed availability is not the sole driver of ICU admissions and its effects vary across states.