Meeting the standards for interhospital transfer of adults with severe head injury in the United Kingdom

Anaesthesia. 1999 Mar;54(3):283-8. doi: 10.1046/j.1365-2044.1999.00709.x.


In December 1996, the Association of Anaesthetists of Great Britain and Ireland produced a series of recommendations outlining the safe conduct of interhospital transfers for patients with acute head injuries. We assessed the current ability of UK hospitals to implement these recommendations and opinions on the formation of transfer teams, using a postal questionnaire. This was sent to all Royal College of Anaesthetists tutors, 268 of whom replied (94% response rate). Of the hospitals surveyed, 208 received adult head-injury patients but did not have on-site neurosurgical facilities. In 171 (86.8%) of these hospitals, senior house officers could be expected to accompany the patient during subsequent transfer. The majority of hospitals (192, 92.3%) were able to monitor ECG, pulse oximetry and blood pressure during the journey, but only 97 (46.6%) had facilities to monitor end tidal carbon dioxide levels. As a result of the anaesthetist's involvement in the transfer, emergency operating could be delayed in 169 (81.3%) hospitals. One hundred and fifty-eight (76%) respondents thought that the formation of transfer teams to transport critically ill patients would have some merit. Hospitals are responding to the published guidelines, but improvements are still needed in levels of equipment and insurance provision, along with the identification of a designated consultant at each hospital with responsibility for transfers.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Attitude of Health Personnel
  • Consultants
  • Craniocerebral Trauma / therapy*
  • Humans
  • Insurance Coverage
  • Medical Staff, Hospital
  • Monitoring, Physiologic / instrumentation
  • Patient Transfer / organization & administration
  • Patient Transfer / standards*
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • United Kingdom