Do Pediatric Teams Affect Outcomes of Injured Children Requiring Inter-hospital Transport?

Amanda Calhoun, Martin Keller, Junxin Shi, Celeste Brancato, Kathy Donovan, Diana Kraus, Julie C Leonard
Prehospital Emergency Care 2017, 21 (2): 192-200

INTRODUCTION: Studies show that pediatric trauma centers produce better outcomes and reduced mortality for injured children. Yet, most children do not have timely access to a pediatric trauma center and require stabilization locally with subsequent transfer. Investigators have demonstrated that pediatric transport teams (PTT) improve outcomes for critically ill children; however, these studies did not differentiate outcomes for injured children. It may be that moderate to severely injured children actually fare worse with PTT due to slower transport times inherent to their remote locations and thus delays in important interventions.

OBJECTIVE: The purpose of this study was to determine if outcomes for injured children are affected by use of PTT for inter-hospital transfer.

METHODS: We conducted a retrospective chart review of 1,177 children transferred to a pediatric trauma center for injury care between March 1st, 2012 and December 31st, 2013. We compared children who were transported by PTT (ground/air) to those transported by ground advanced life support (ALS) and air critical care (ACC). We described patient characteristics and transport times. For PTT vs. ALS and ACC, we compared hospital length of stay (LOS), transport interventions and adverse events.

RESULTS: 1,177 injured children were transferred by the following modes: 68% ALS, 13% ACC, 11% Ground PTT, and 9% Air PTT. Children transported by PTT were younger and had higher ISS and lower GCS scores. PTT had a longer total transport time, departure preparation time, and patient bedside time. After controlling for age, ISS, GCS, transport mode, distance, and time, we found no significant difference in LOS between PTT vs. ALS and ACC. A subgroup analysis of children with higher ISS scores demonstrated a 65% longer LOS for children transported by ACC vs. PTT. There were no differences between transport teams with regard to acidosis, hypocarbia or hypercarbia, or maintenance of tubes and lines.

CONCLUSIONS: Children transported by PTT were younger and sicker (vs. ACC and ALS). Despite longer transport times, children transported by PTT did not have a longer hospital LOS or adverse events during transport. However, for those children with higher ISS, transport by ACC resulted in longer hospital LOS vs. PTT.

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