Morbidity and severity of illness during interhospital transfer: impact of a specialised paediatric retrieval team

J Britto, S Nadel, I Maconochie, M Levin, P Habibi
BMJ: British Medical Journal 1995 September 30, 311 (7009): 836-9

OBJECTIVE: To evaluate the morbidity and severity of illness during interhospital transfer of critically ill children by a specialised paediatric retrieval team.

DESIGN: Prospective, descriptive study.

SETTING: Hospitals without paediatric intensive care facilities in and around the London area, and a paediatric intensive care unit at a tertiary centre.

SUBJECTS: 51 critically ill children transferred to the paediatric intensive care unit.

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Adverse events related to equipment and physiological deterioration during transfer. Paediatric risk of mortality score before and after retrieval. Therapeutic intervention score before and after arrival of retrieval team.

RESULTS: Two (4%) patients had preventable physiological deterioration during transport. There were no adverse events related to equipment. Severity of illness decreased during stabilisation and transport by the retrieval team, suggested by the difference between risk of mortality scores before and after retrieval (P < 0.001). The median (range) difference between the two scores was 3.0 (-6 to 17). Interventions during stabilisation by the retrieval team increased, demonstrated by the difference between intervention scores before and after retrieval, median (range) difference between the two scores being 6 (-8 to 38) (P < 0.001).

CONCLUSIONS: Our study indicates that a specialised paediatric retrieval team can rapidly deliver intensive care to critically ill children awaiting transfer. Such children can be transferred to a paediatric intensive care unit with minimal morbidity and mortality related to transport. There was no deterioration in the clinical condition of most patients during transfer.

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