, Volume 30, Issue 8, pp 1508-1510
Date: 09 Jun 2004

Intra-hospital transport of critically ill patients: minimising risk

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Sir,

“Is your journey really necessary?” asked a railway poster during the privations of the Second World War. A similar question should be asked of clinicians committing sick patients to a transfer between, or within, hospitals, with the additional question, “Is this transfer really safe?” There are many potential risks associated with transporting the critically ill patient, including their greater susceptibility to the physiological changes associated with the change in environment, changes in equipment such as ventilators and pumps, downgrading the intensity of care, the absence of backup supplies and staff and failure to identify or predict continued deterioration in the patient’s condition. For all these reasons, transport medicine deserves greater recognition as an activity which requires a particular focus and training.

In some countries—France, Germany and many parts of the U.S., for example—transport systems are well-funded and expertly managed. In many other countries, transpo