Transport of critically ill COVID-19 patients

Dear Editor,

As the COVID-19 pandemic evolves, some important challenges have surfaced due to the contagious nature of the virus. These challenges include protecting health-care workers (HCWs) with appropriate PPEs and developing strategies to minimize nosocomial spread. Ensuring local and regional preparations are in place and developing policies addressing different aspects of patient care may ensure staff and patient safety [1, 2].

Safe transportation of critically ill patients is always challenging and primarily depends on staff training, pre-defined hospital transport protocols and checklists, the availability of appropriate transport equipment and the timing of transport [3]. Critically ill patients are generally at risk for instability during transfer [4]. During the current COVID-19 pandemic, patient inter- or intra-hospital transfer is indicated in many situations involving multiple sites (wards, emergency department, intensive care unit, radiology suites and from non-COVID hospitals to COVID hospitals in some countries). Critically ill COVID-19 also pose the challenge of controlling viral transmission. Careful execution of infection control measures is necessary to minimize nosocomial spread to other patients and HCWs during their management [5]. Conducting COVID-19 patient transport safely is therefore important. Haphazard transportation can compromise the safety of patients, staff members and bystanders [6]. Efforts to avoid potential breaches in infection control should therefore be based on pre-defined protocols and guidelines for patient transport.

Kuwait has designated centers for the management of confirmed COVID-19 cases. Transfer of patients with confirmed disease from non-COVID centers to COVID centers represents a major challenge. Management of the environment after transporting an infected patient (e.g. equipment, ambulance) represents another such challenge. The department of Anesthesia and critical care-Al Adan hospital in Kuwait, developed a transportation protocol for critically ill COVID-19 patients (Table 1) to ensure safe patient transport. During the current worldwide crisis, we hope that our protocol will assist others in managing safe transportation of COVID-19 patients.

Table 1 Safe transportation of critically Ill COVID-19 patients


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Correspondence to Beena Yousuf.

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Yousuf, B., Sujatha, K.S., alfoudri, H. et al. Transport of critically ill COVID-19 patients. Intensive Care Med 46, 1663–1664 (2020).

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