Quality of inter-hospital transportation in 431 transport survivor patients suffering from acute respiratory distress syndrome referred to specialist centers

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Abstract

Background: The acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) is a life-threatening condition. In special situations, these critically ill patients must be transferred to specialized centers for escalating treatment. The aim of this study was to evaluate the quality of inter-hospital transport (IHT) of ARDS patients. Methods: We evaluated medical and organizational aspects of structural and procedural quality relating to IHT of patients with ARDS in a prospective nationwide ARDS study. The qualification of emergency staff, the organizational aspects and the occurrence of critical events during transport were analyzed. Results: Out of 1234 ARDS patients, 431 (34.9%) were transported, and 52 of these (12.1%) treated with extracorporeal membrane oxygenation. 63.1% of transferred patients were male, median age was 54 years, and 26.8% of patients were obese. All patients were mechanically ventilated during IHT. Pressure-controlled ventilation was the preferred mode (92.1%). Median duration to organize the IHT was 165 min. Median distance for IHT was 58 km, and median duration of IHT 60 min. Forty-two patient-related and 8 technology-related critical events (11.6%, 50 of 431 patients) were observed. When a critical event occurred, the PaO2/FiO2 ratio before transport was significant lower (68 vs. 80 mmHg, p = 0.017). 69.8% of physicians and 86.7% of paramedics confirmed all transfer qualifications according to requirements of the German faculty guidelines (DIVI). Conclusions: The transport of critically ill patients is associated with potential risks. In our study the rate of patient- and technology-related critical events was relatively low. A severe ARDS with a PaO2/FiO2 ratio < 70 mmHg seems to be a risk factor for the appearance of critical events during IHT. The majority of transport staff was well qualified. Time span for organization of IHT was relatively short. ECMO is an option to transport patients with a severe ARDS safely to specialized centers. Trial registration NCT02637011 (ClinicalTrials.gov, Registered 15 December 2015, retrospectively registered).

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Blecha, S., Dodoo-Schittko, F., Brandstetter, S., Brandl, M., Dittmar, M., Graf, B. M., … Müllenbach, R. (2018). Quality of inter-hospital transportation in 431 transport survivor patients suffering from acute respiratory distress syndrome referred to specialist centers. Annals of Intensive Care, 8(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/s13613-018-0357-y

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