Objective: Interhospital transfers of critically ill pediatric patients in The Netherlands are accompanied by referring specialists or by specialist retrieval teams. We compared the interventions before and directly after transports and the complications and the equipment available during transports in the two groups.
Design and setting: Prospective observational clinical study in pediatric intensive care units of Dutch university hospitals.
Patients: 249 pediatric patients requiring interhospital intensive care transport.
Methods: Data were collected on interhospital pediatric intensive care transports. We compared patient characteristics, interventions before and directly after transport, complications and equipment available during transport (137 accompanied by referring specialists, 112 by specialist retrieval teams).
Results: Interhospital transports accompanied by referring specialists had a longer average transport time (74.6 vs. 60.2 min), higher incidence of respiratory insufficiency (56.9% vs. 41.1%), and lower incidence of circulatory insufficiency (27.0% vs. 41.1%) than primary admission diagnoses. These transports had a lower percentage of ventilatory support (47.4% vs. 72.3%), higher need for acute interventions directly upon arrival on the pediatric ICU, and higher incidence of critical and serious complications. In 75% of the transfers accompanied by retrieval teams interventions before the transport were deemed to be necessary. During the transports accompanied by referring specialists the equipment and materials available proved rather limited.
Conclusions: During pediatric intensive care transports accompanied by nontrained referring specialists there appears to be a higher incidence of complications, specialized equipment is more often not available, and more acute interventions are required upon arrival in the pediatric ICU.