Background: Historically, patients with cancer have been perceived as poor candidates for ICU admission. General ICU admission criteria lists cancer patients as low priority in ICU admission depriving them of the care they rightfully deserve. The purpose of this literary synthesis was to examine ICU admission criteria, risk factors, and outcomes of ICU admission in relation to hematological and solid tumor cancers and discuss ways that practitioners and nurses can educate patients with cancer and their families on appropriateness of ICU care.

Methods: A total of 768 articles were found in a literature search including all literature from 2005 to 2016 from all countries using the databases CINAHL Plus, MEDLINE, PsycINFO, and Academic Search Premier. These were further narrowed down based on relevancy by topic or reading abstracts. A total of 13 articles utilizing the inclusion and exclusion criteria of the literature search were included in the final literature synthesis.

Results: In addition to general ICU admission criteria several other criteria and scores can be helpful in admitting patients with cancer to the ICU including cancer specific criteria, mortality predictor tools, performance status, and ICU trials. Mortality predictors, in combination with other patient characteristics, demonstrated effectiveness to predict outcomes in patients with cancer. Survival rates in hematological and solid tumor cancers have improved from the past, and lower prognostic scores can predict who will have better outcomes.

Conclusion: Cancer specific criteria, mortality predictor tools, performance status, and ICU trials in addition to general ICU criteria should be used for admission of cancer patients into ICU. Practitioners and nurses should become familiar with the newest outcomes in patients with cancer to make collaborative informed decisions about ICU admission.

Thesis Completion




Thesis Chair/Advisor

Loerzel, Victoria


Bachelor of Science in Nursing (B.S.N.)


College of Nursing




Orlando (Main) Campus



Access Status

Open Access

Release Date

August 2016