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Why is the ICUSTAY_ID null for some rows in the transfers table?

-- returns 174176 rows
SELECT * FROM mimiciii.transfers  
WHERE ICUSTAY_ID IS NULL
ORDER BY ICUSTAY_ID ASC ;

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2

The transfers table provides a record of the movements between wards made by patients during a hospital stay. Not all of the transfers listed in the table are made between intensive care units.

If the current care unit (curr_careunit) is an intensive care unit then we would expect the icustay_id to be populated. If the curr_careunit is not an intensive care unit, we would expect the icustay_id to be null.

An empty field in the curr_careunit or prev_careunit indicates that the care unit is not an intensive care unit. In addition, certain other entries may not be intensive care units (for example, 'NWARD' is a ward for newborns).

To summarise, all or almost all of the icustay_ids returned by your query are expected to be null because the curr_careunit is not an intensive care unit.

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