Background Fever in a patient in the intensive care unit necessitates several nursing tasks. Moreover, factors associated with increased patient care needs may be associated with fever.

Objective To identify relationships between fever and characteristics of fever and nursing workload at the patient level.

Methods A prospective study was conducted in a medical-surgical intensive care unit. The sample consisted of 361 patients consecutively admitted from October 2005 to August 2006. Each patient’s body temperature was measured by using a tympanic membrane or an axillary thermometer. The Therapeutic Intervention Scoring System-28 was used to measure nursing workload.

Results A total of 188 patients (52.1%) had fever. Mean daily scores on the Therapeutic Intervention Scoring System and on 5 of its 7 categories were significantly higher for febrile patients than for nonfebrile patients. Fever was an independent predictor of the mean daily scores for all patients (P < .001). Peak body temperature but not duration of fever also was an independent predictor of mean daily scores for febrile patients (P < .001).

Conclusion In a general intensive care unit, fever in patients should be taken into consideration for the proper allocation of nursing personnel.

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