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Q: Number of Intensive Care Units in US ( Answered 5 out of 5 stars,   1 Comment )
Subject: Number of Intensive Care Units in US
Category: Health > Medicine
Asked by: prdeepak-ga
List Price: $200.00
Posted: 31 Aug 2005 22:54 PDT
Expires: 30 Sep 2005 22:54 PDT
Question ID: 562960
How many Intensive Care Units are there in the US?  I'm investigating
the potential market size for a new medical device, and one area of
use would be Intensive Care Units (ICUs).  Not every hospital has an
ICU.  Bonus points would go to the researcher who can also identify
how many ICU beds there are in the country, and separate general ICUs
from specialty ICUs (cardiac, neonatal, burn, etc.).

Request for Question Clarification by pafalafa-ga on 01 Sep 2005 10:04 PDT

The best information I can come up with indicates that there are 6,000
ICU's in the US, along with another 1,100 NICU's.

In addition, I've found a detailed breakout of the 6,000 ICU's into
categories such as surgical, burn, neurological, transplant, etc.

There is also some information on the number of patients treated in
ICUs, hospital size, private vs public, etc.

There is a big caveat for all this, however.  The data come from a few
different sources, some of which dates back to the late 1990's. 
Though the data strikes me as quite credible, and representative of
the current situation, there is no way to confirm this.  As far as I
can tell, there simply is not a very current survey available of
ICUs/NICUs in the US.

Let me know if I should post the details of my research as an answer
to your question.


Clarification of Question by prdeepak-ga on 01 Sep 2005 10:29 PDT
Yes, go ahead, post it.  Thanks for the work!

- Deepak
Subject: Re: Number of Intensive Care Units in US
Answered By: pafalafa-ga on 01 Sep 2005 11:52 PDT
Rated:5 out of 5 stars

Thanks for giving me the go-ahead on this.

As I mentioned above, there are a number of sources of information
regarding ICUs and NICUs in the US.  I have presented these below.

I trust these sources of information fully answer your question.

However, please don't rate this answer until you have everything you
need.  If there's anything more I can do for you, just post a Request
for Clarification, and I'm happy to assist you further.



First, for a bit of context, there is a good overview of the numbers
of hospitals in the US in a "2005 Fast Facts" sheet prepared by the
American Hospital Association:

which states that there are 5,764 hospitals across the country.

Apparently, there are about an equal number of ICU's, as several
sources cite the number of ICU's in the country as 6,000, caring for
55,000 patients on any given day.  For instance, here's a typical


There are almost 6,000 intensive care units in the United States
caring for about 55,000 patients on any given day. ICUs account
for 10 percent of inpatient acute care beds and this number is projected
to increase with the overall aging of the population. With more than 5 million
patients being admitted to these units annually, at a cost of approximately
$180 billion or 30 percent of acute care costs, patient care safety
and quality must continue to be our highest priority.

A very similar quote appears in this article from the Journal of the
American Medical Association (JAMA):


Delirium as a Predictor of Mortality in Mechanically Ventilated
Patients in the Intensive Care Unit

JAMA. 2004;291:1753-1762

IN THE UNITED STATES, 55,000 patients
are cared for daily in more than
6000 intensive care units (ICUs)...

As far as I can tell, the statistics on the ICU's do not include the
the neonatal intensive care units (NICUs) which are tallied
separately.  This brief Google search result highlights an article
from the American Journal of Nursing:


AJN - Fulltext: Volume 102(4) April 2002 p 18-21 News. - 2 visits - 12:38pm
... diaper-clad preterm infants skin to skin and chest to chest by parents-was
sent to all 1133 neonatal intensive care units (NICUs) in the United States. ...

As you can see, the article mentions a figure of 1,133 NICu's in the
US.  Unfortunately, I do not have access to the full text of the
article in order to explore the source of this figure in more detail.

The combined number of ICUs and NICUs, then, appears to be in the
vicinity of 6,000 + 1,133, or somewhat over 7,000 total units.  This
number is apparently what is being referred to in this citation, which
puts the total at 7,500:


The Daily Record
May 5, 2003
Visicu offers hospitals technology where personnel fall short 

In the country's 7,500 intensive care units, it is estimated there are
about 6,000 physicians, leaving state health care systems pushing to
find viable alternatives to ensure patient care...

The most thorough report on ICU's in the US -- and one that helps
confirm the 6,000 ICUs figure -- is a 1998 study by Abt Associates
which can be accessed in full here:
Future Needs in Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine
November 1998

This is a lengthy report, with a lot of detail to wade through. 
However, the main statistics on ICU's are presented about half-way
through the report, in the following table:

Table 3.21, "ICU Directors Survey: The Universe of Critical Care Units".

This table breaks-out the universe of 5,979 ICUs as follows:

General (medical/surgical) 3,920 (66%)

Medical 713 (12%)

Surgical 698 (12%)

Burn 175 (3%)

Neurological 127 (2%)

Respiratory 56 (1%)

Cardiothoracic 137 (2%)

Transplant 24 (0.4%)

Trauma 130 (2%)

[NOTE that NICU's are not included in this break-out]

There are a lot of other stats in the report that you might want to
explore, such as this section on overall Hospital Statistics:

Hospital Statistics

Overall, 48 percent of the ICUs were located in private community
hospitals, while 15 percent were university hospitals, and 17 percent
from city/county hospitals (Table 3.23). More than 40 percent of the
ICUs were in medium sized hospitals (between 100 and 300 beds). Nearly
20 percent of the ICU units were in hospitals with 301-500 beds, 17
percent were in hospitals with more than 500 beds, and the remaining
ICUs (21 percent) were in small hospitals with 100 beds or fewer.

About 43 percent of the ICUs were part of hospitals that were
associated with a medical school, and 21 percent were both associated
with a medical school and a member of the Council of Teaching
Hospitals (COTH). More than 50 percent of ICUs were neither associated
with a medical school nor members of COTH.

Again, I trust this information meets your needs, but if there's
anything else I can help you with, just holler.


search strategy -- Google searches on:

[ "500..50000 icu OR ICUs OR "intensive care units" ]

[ "500..50000 icu OR ICUs OR "intensive care" "in the us OR united-states" ]

[ "500..50000 nicu OR NICUs OR "neonatal intensive care" ]
prdeepak-ga rated this answer:5 out of 5 stars and gave an additional tip of: $25.00
This is a great answer, because:
>> it gave me its sources
>> it provided multiple sources
>> it told me its search strategy


Subject: Re: Number of Intensive Care Units in US
From: pafalafa-ga on 01 Sep 2005 15:17 PDT
Thanks so much!  Glad to hear you liked the answer.


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