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Safety of inter-facility transport strategies for patients referred for severe acute respiratory distress syndrome.

BMC Emergency Medicine 2023 November 5
BACKGROUND: Inter-facility transport of patients with acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) in the prone position (PP) is a high-risk situation, compared to other strategies. We aimed to quantify the prevalence of complications during transport in PP, compared to transports with veno-venous extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (VV-ECMO) or in the supine position (SP).

METHODS: We performed a retrospective, single center cohort study in Lyon university hospital, France. We included patients ≥ 16 years with ARDS (Berlin definition) transported to an ARDS referral center between 01/12/2016 and 31/12/2021. We compared patients transported in PP, to those transported in SP without VV-ECMO, and those transported with VV-ECMO (in SP), by a multidisciplinary and specialized medical transport team, including an emergency physician and an intensivist. The primary outcome was the rate of transport-related complications (hypoxemia, hypotension, cardiac arrest, cannula or tube dislodgement) in each study groups, compared using a Fisher test.

RESULTS: One hundred thirty-four patients were enrolled (median PaO2 /FiO2 70 [58-82] mmHg), of which 11 (8%) were transported in PP, 44 (33%) with VV-ECMO, and 79 (59%) in SP. The most frequent risk factor for ARDS in the PP group was bacterial pneumonitis, and viral pneumonitis in the other 2 groups. Transport-related complications occurred in 36% (n = 4) of transports in PP, compared to 39% (n = 30) in SP and 14% (n = 6) with VV-ECMO, respectively (p = 0.33). VV-ECMO implantation after transport was not different between SP and PP patients (n = 7, 64% vs. n = 31, 39%, p = 0.19).

CONCLUSIONS: In the context of a specialized multi-disciplinary ARDS transport team, transport-related complication rates were similar between patients transported in PP and SP, while there was a trend of lower rates in patients transported with VV-ECMO.

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