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The severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus disease-2 (SARS-CoV-2) pandemic of 2020-2021 created unprecedented challenges for clinicians in critical care transport (CCT). These CCT services had to rapidly adjust their clinical approaches to evolving patient demographics, a preponderance of respiratory failure, and transport utilization stratagem. Organizations had to develop and implement new protocols and guidelines in rapid succession, often without the education and training that would have been involved pre-coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). These changes were complicated by the need to protect crew members as well as to optimize patient care. Clinical initiatives included developing an awake proning transport protocol and a protocol to transport intubated proned patients. One service developed a protocol for helmet ventilation to minimize aerosolization risks for patients on noninvasive positive pressure ventilation (NIPPV). While these clinical protocols were developed specifically for COVID-19, the growth in practice will enhance the care of patients with other causes of respiratory failure. Additionally, these processes will apply to future respiratory epidemics and pandemics.
Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) has accelerated rapidly for patients in severe cardiac or respiratory failure. As a result, ECMO networks are being developed across the world using a “hub and spoke” model. Current guidelines call for all patients transported on ECMO to be accompanied by a physician during transport. However, as ECMO centers and networks grow, the increasing number of transports will be limited by this mandate.
The aim of this study was to compare rates of adverse events occurring during transport of ECMO patients with and without an additional clinician, defined as a physician, nurse practitioner (NP), or physician assistant (PA).
This is a retrospective cohort study of all adults transported while cannulated on ECMO from 2011-2018 via ground and air between 21 hospitals in the northeastern United States, comparing transports with and without additional clinicians. The primary outcome was the rate of major adverse events, and the secondary outcome was minor adverse events.
Over the seven-year study period, 93 patients on ECMO were transported. Twenty-three transports (24.7%) were accompanied by a physician or other additional clinician. Major adverse events occurred in 21.5% of all transports. There was no difference in the total rate of major adverse events between accompanied and unaccompanied transports (P = .91). Multivariate analysis did not demonstrate any parameter as being predictive of major adverse events.
In a retrospective cohort study of transports of ECMO patients, there was no association between the overall rate of major adverse events in transport and the accompaniment of an additional clinician. No variables were associated with major adverse events in either cohort.
Hypoxemic patients often desaturate further with movement and transport. While inhaled epoprostenol does not improve mortality, improving oxygenation allows for transport of severely hypoxemic patients to tertiary care centers with a related improvement in mortality rates. Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) use is increasing in frequency for patients with refractory hypoxemia, and with increasing regionalization of care, safe transport of hypoxemic patients only becomes more important. In this series, four cases are presented of young patients with severe hypoxemic respiratory failure from Legionnaires’ disease transported on inhaled epoprostenol to ECMO centers for consideration of cannulation. With continued climate changes, Legionella and other pathogens are likely to be a continued threat. As such, optimizing oxygenation to allow for transport should continue to be a priority for critical care transport (CCT) services.
Inter-facility transport of critically ill patients is associated with a high risk of adverse events, and critical care transport (CCT) teams may spend considerable time at sending institutions preparing patients for transport. The effect of mode of transport and distance to be traveled on on-scene times (OSTs) has not been well-described.
Quantification of the time required to package patients and complete CCTs based on mode of transport and distance between facilities is important for hospitals and CCT teams to allocate resources effectively.
This is a retrospective review of OSTs and transport times for patients with hypoxemic respiratory failure transported from October 2009 through December 2012 from sending hospitals to three tertiary care hospitals. Differences among the OSTs and transport times based on the mode of transport (ground, rotor wing, or fixed wing), distance traveled, and intra-hospital pick-up location (emergency department [ED] vs intensive care unit [ICU]) were assessed. Correlations between OSTs and transport times were performed based on mode of transport and distance traveled.
Two hundred thirty-nine charts were identified for review. Mean OST was 42.2 (SD=18.8) minutes, and mean transport time was 35.7 (SD=19.5) minutes. On-scene time was greater than en route time for 147 patients and greater than total trip time for 91. Mean transport distance was 42.2 (SD=35.1) miles. There were no differences in the OST based on mode of transport; however, total transport time was significantly shorter for rotor versus ground, (39.9 [SD=19.9] minutes vs 54.2 [SD=24.7] minutes; P <.001) and for rotor versus fixed wing (84.3 [SD=34.2] minutes; P=0.02). On-scene time in the ED was significantly shorter than the ICU (33.5 [SD=15.7] minutes vs 45.2 [SD=18.8] minutes; P <.001). For all patients, regardless of mode of transportation, there was no correlation between OST and total miles travelled; although, there was a significant correlation between the time en route and distance, as well as total trip time and distance.
In this cohort of critically ill patients with hypoxemic respiratory failure, OST was over 40 minutes and was often longer than the total trip time. On-scene time did not correlate with mode of transport or distance traveled. These data can assist in planning inter-facility transports for both the sending and receiving hospitals, as well as CCT services.
WilcoxSR, SaiaMS, WadenH, McGahnSJ, FrakesM, WedelSK, RichardsJB. On-scene Times for Inter-facility Transport of Patients with Hypoxemic Respiratory Failure. Prehosp Disaster Med. 2016;31(3):267–271.
Critical care transport (CCT) teams must manage a wide array of medications before and during transport. Appreciating the medications required for transport impacts formulary development as well as staff education and training.
As there are few data describing the patterns of medication administration, this study quantifies medication administrations and patterns in a series of adult CCTs.
This was a retrospective review of medication administration during CCTs of patients with severe hypoxemic respiratory failure from October 2009 through December 2012 from referring hospitals to three tertiary care hospitals.
Two hundred thirty-nine charts were identified for review. Medications were administered by the CCT team to 98.7% of these patients, with only three patients not receiving any medications from the team. Fifty-nine medications were administered in total with 996 instances of administration. Fifteen drugs were each administered to only one patient. The mean number of medications per patient was 4.2 (SD=1.8) with a mean of 1.9 (SD=1.1) drug infusions per patient.
These results demonstrate that, even within a relatively homogeneous population of patients transferred with hypoxemic respiratory failure, a wide range of medications were administered. The CCT teams frequently initiated, titrated, and discontinued continuous infusions, in addition to providing numerous doses of bolused medications.
WilcoxSR, SaiaMS, WadenH, McGahnSJ, FrakesM, WedelSK, RichardsJB. Medication Administration in Critical Care Transport of Adult Patients with Hypoxemic Respiratory Failure. Prehosp Disaster Med. 2015;30(4):1-5.
Severe sepsis and septic shock are common and often fatal medical problems. The Prehospital Sepsis Project is a multifaceted study that aims to improve the out-of-hospital care of patients with sepsis by means of education and enhancement of skills. The objective of this Project was to assess the knowledge and attitudes in the principles of diagnosis and management of sepsis in a cohort of United States out-of-hospital care providers.
This was cross-sectional study. A 15-item survey was administered via the Web and e-mailed to multiple emergency medical services list-servers. The evaluation consisted of four clinical scenarios as well as questions on the basics of sepsis. For intra-rater reliability, the first and the fourth scenarios were identical. Chi-square and Fisher's Exact testing were used to assess associations. Relative risk (RR) was used for strength of association. Statistical significance was set at .05.
A total of 226 advanced EMS providers participated with a 85.4% (n = 193) completion rate, consisting of a 30.7% rural, 32.3% urban, and 37.0% suburban mix; 82.4% were paramedics and 72.5% had worked in EMS >10 years. Only 57 (29.5%) participants scored both of the duplicate scenarios correctly, and only 19 of the 193 (9.8%) responded to all scenarios correctly. Level of training was not a predictor of correctly scoring scenarios (P = .71, RR = 1.25, 95% CI = 0.39-4.01), nor was years of service (P = .11, RR = 1.64, 95% CI = 0.16-1.21).
Poor understanding of the principles of diagnosis and management of sepsis was observed in this cohort, suggesting the need for enhancement of education. Survey items will be used to develop a focused, interactive Web-based learning program. Limitations include potential for self-selection and data accuracy.
Báez AA, Hanudel P, Perez MT, Giraldez EM, Wilcox SR. Prehospital Sepsis Project (PSP): Knowledge and Attitudes of United States Advanced Out-of-Hospital Care Providers. Prehosp Disaster Med. 2013;28(2):1-3.
This chapter groups neck and back pain from spinal stenosis, as well as intervertebral disk disease, or arthritis, into the category of spinal spondylitic syndromes (SSS). NSAIDs are frequently used to treat pain from these disorders despite the scant evidence support for their use in SSS. Few data address efficacy of opioids for SSS. A trial in patients with spinal osteoarthritis showed significant pain reduction compared with placebo from either regular formulation oxycodone plus acetaminophen, or sustained-release oxycodone. There is preliminary evidence supporting some role for gabapentin in cervical SSS pain. Endorsement of gabapentin use for SSS pain is based primarily upon its presumed benefit in related pain syndromes such as diabetic neuropathy. The omega-3 fatty acids eicosapentaenoic acid and decosahexaenoic acid, which have known anti-inflammatory properties, are used for SSS pain of discogenic nature.