Intrahospital transport of critically ill pediatric patients

E Wallen, S T Venkataraman, M J Grosso, K Kiene, R A Orr
Critical Care Medicine 1995, 23 (9): 1588-95

OBJECTIVES: To determine the frequency of adverse events during intrahospital transport; to determine the requirement of therapeutic interventions during transport; to test the hypothesis that adverse events that occur during intrahospital transport are due to the transport process itself; and to determine the factors that predict the occurrence of adverse events and the requirement of major therapeutic interventions during transport.

DESIGN: A two-phase study in which data were prospectively collected. In phase I, we examined the occurrence rate of adverse events, the requirement for therapeutic interventions, and the factors that predicted adverse events and the requirement of therapeutic interventions. In phase II, we tested the hypothesis that adverse events during transport were due to the transport process itself.

SETTING: A 250-bed university children's hospital with a 50-bed intensive care unit (ICU).

PATIENTS: Phase I of the study consisted of one hundred and eighty intrahospital transports in 139 patients. These transports included patients who were transferred: a) to the ICU from the operating room, emergency department, or the general ward; b) from the ICU to the operating room; and c) from the ICU for diagnostic or therapeutic procedures. Phase II of the study consisted of 89 transports in 85 patients.


MEASUREMENTS AND MAIN RESULTS: Vital signs and oxygen saturation were measured before and during transport. In phase I, there were no adverse events in 23.9% of transports. There was a significant change in at least one physiologic variable in 71.7% of transports, and at least one equipment-related mishap in 10% of transports. At least one major intervention was performed in 13.9% of transports in response to physiologic deterioration or an equipment-related mishap. There were no arrests or deaths during transport. The requirement for a major procedure was 34.4% in mechanically ventilated patients vs. 9.5% in nonventilated patients. Logistic regression analysis showed that both pretransport Therapeutic Intervention Scoring System and the duration of transport were significantly associated with the requirement of a major intervention and physiologic deterioration, while only the duration of transport was associated with an equipment-related event. The age of the patient and the number of escorts accompanying the transport did not affect the frequency of adverse events. Before transport in phase II study patients, no patient became hypothermic, the changes in physiologic variables were always < 20%, and there was no change > or = 5% in oxygen saturation. Hypothermia occurred in 11.2% of transports. A > or = 20% change in heart rate (15.7%), blood pressure (21.3%), and respiratory rate (23.6%) was seen only during transport. A > 5% change in oxygen saturation (5.6%) was seen only during transport.

CONCLUSIONS: Serious physiologic deterioration occurs during intrahospital transport of critically ill children. Severity of illness and the duration of transport are associated with the occurrence of adverse events during transport. The team composition and equipment required on transport must be commensurate with the pretransport severity of illness and the anticipated duration of transport.

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