OBJECTIVE: The goal was to test the hypothesis that interfacility transport performed by a pediatric critical care specialized team, compared with nonspecialized teams, would be associated with improved survival rates and fewer unplanned events during the transport process.

METHODS: A single-center, prospective, cohort study was performed between January 2001 and September 2002. A total of 1085 infants and children at referral community hospitals with requests for retrieval by the Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh transport team were studied; 1021(94%) were transported by a specialty team and 64 (6%) by nonspecialized teams. Unplanned events during the transport process and 28-day mortality rates were assessed.

RESULTS: Unplanned events occurred for 55 patients (5%) and were more common among patients transported by nonspecialized teams (61% vs 1.5%). Airway-related events were most common, followed by cardiopulmonary arrest, sustained hypotension, and loss of crucial intravenous access. After adjustment for illness severity, only the use of a nonspecialized team was independently associated with an unplanned event, and death was more common among patients transported by nonspecialized teams (23% vs 9%).

CONCLUSION: Transport of critically ill children to a pediatric tertiary care center can be conducted more safely with a pediatric critical care specialized team than with teams lacking specific training and expertise in pediatric critical care and pediatric transport medicine.

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