Adverse events during intrahospital transport of critically ill patients: incidence and risk factors

Ann Intensive Care. 2013 Apr 12;3(1):10. doi: 10.1186/2110-5820-3-10.


Background: Transport of critically ill patients for diagnostic or therapeutic procedures is at risk of complications. Adverse events during transport are common and may have significant consequences for the patient. The objective of the study was to collect prospectively adverse events that occurred during intrahospital transports of critically ill patients and to determine their risk factors.

Methods: This prospective, observational study of intrahospital transport of consecutively admitted patients with mechanical ventilation was conducted in a 38-bed intensive care unit in a university hospital from May 2009 to March 2010.

Results: Of 262 transports observed (184 patients), 120 (45.8%) were associated with adverse events. Risk factors were ventilation with positive end-expiratory pressure >6 cmH2O, sedation before transport, and fluid loading for intrahospital transports. Within these intrahospital transports with adverse events, 68 (26% of all intrahospital transports) were associated with an adverse event affecting the patient. Identified risk factors were: positive end-expiratory pressure >6 cmH2O, and treatment modification before transport. In 44 cases (16.8% of all intrahospital transports), adverse event was considered serious for the patient. In our study, adverse events did not statistically increase ventilator-associated pneumonia, time spent on mechanical ventilation, or length of stay in the intensive care unit.

Conclusions: This study confirms that the intrahospital transports of critically ill patients leads to a significant number of adverse events. Although in our study adverse events have not had major consequences on the patient stay, efforts should be made to decrease their incidence.