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Complications in critically ill adult patients’ transportations reported in the recent literature

Stefano Bambi, Alberto Lucchini, Diego Innocenti, Elisa Mattiussi
  • Stefano Bambi
    Emergency Intensive Care Unit, Careggi University Hospital, Florence, Italy
  • Alberto Lucchini
    General Intensive Care Unit, Emergency Department, San Gerardo Hospital, Monza, Italy |
  • Diego Innocenti
    Careggi University Hospital, Florence, Italy
  • Elisa Mattiussi
    Anesthesia and Intensive Care, Santa Maria della Misericordia University Hospital, Udine, Italy


The transport of critically ill patients is a complex process, made up by several phases involving the healthcare professionals. It requires a careful planning for the prevention of potential complications undermining the patients’ safety outside critical care environment. Literature review about complications and adverse events reported during intra and inter-hospital transport of critically ill adult patients. Intra-hospital transfers are affected by adverse events rates ranging from 22.2 to 75.7% in the published literature. Major adverse events, defined as life threatening conditions that require urgent therapeutic intervention, vary from 4.2 to 31%. Death is a rare occurrence. Adverse events during interhospital have a maximum rate of 34%. Technical incidents represent a typical feature of these transports. Authors reported problems to gas supply, ambulance electric system, equipment. There is a lack of studies about the complications related to rotary wing inter-hospital transports. While extracorporeal membrane oxygenation/extracorporeal life support patients seem to be the most complex category of critically ill to be transported outside the hospital, 11 papers revealed only 29 adverse events ranging from 0 to 17%. No deaths were recorded. Currently, research must explore more accurately how much transports affect the outcome of patients, and what are the most appropriate time-frames to assess the consequences of transfers on patients’ clinical conditions.


Severe acute respiratory syndrome; Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation; Transportation of patients; Mobile emergency unit

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Submitted: 2014-10-16 16:26:07
Published: 2015-06-03 00:00:00
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Copyright (c) 2015 Stefano Bambi, Alberto Lucchini, Diego Innocenti, Elisa Mattiussi

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