Characteristics and outcomes of interhospital transfers from level II to level I pediatric intensive care units*


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Abstract

Objective:To examine the characteristics, resource utilization, and outcomes for transfer admissions from level II to level I pediatric intensive care units (PICUs).Design:Retrospective study.Setting:A 16-bed level I PICU in a tertiary care children’s hospital.Patients:All transfer admissions from level II PICUs from January 1, 1997, through December 31, 2003; admissions for cardiac surgery were excluded. Patient characteristics, resource utilization, and outcomes were described and then compared across predefined strata (low <5%, moderate 5–30%, and high >30%) of predicted probability of death.Interventions:None.Measurements and Main Results:Of 168 transfer admissions, 45%, 30%, and 25% were in the low, moderate, and high mortality risk groups, respectively. Length of stay at the referring PICU was shortest for the high-risk admissions. The most frequent diagnoses among all risk groups were respiratory failure (49%) and sepsis (14%). High-risk admissions were more likely to receive advanced therapies such as extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (41.5% high risk vs. 39.2% moderate vs. 6.6% low risk, p < .01) and renal replacement therapy (34.2% vs. 17.7% vs. 2.6%, p < .01). The high-risk admissions had longer PICU length of stay and the highest death rates (34% vs. 10% vs. 4%, p < .01) when compared with the moderate- and low-risk admissions, respectively.Conclusions:This study highlights significant differences in patient characteristics, resource utilization, and outcomes across mortality risk-stratified groups of critically ill and injured children transferred from level II to level I PICU care. Further studies are warranted to investigate decision making that prompt inter-PICU transfers.

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