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Risk events during intrahospital transport of patients from the emergency department: a prospective observational study


Background We aimed to determine the incidence, nature of and predisposing factors for risk events (REs) that occur during the intrahospital transport of patients from the ED.

Methods We undertook a prospective, observational study of intrahospital patient transports from a single ED between 30 January and 20 March 2020. An investigator attended each transport and recorded any RE on a specifically designed data collection document. An RE was any mishap, even if not foreseen, that had the potential to cause the patient harm. A patient equipment number was assigned based on the number of pieces of equipment required during the transport. Poisson regression generated incidence rate ratios (IRRs) and determined risk factors for REs.

Results Of 738 transports, 289 (39.1%, 95% CI 35.6% to 42.8%) had at least one RE. The total of 521 REs comprised 125 patient-related, 279 device-related and 117 line/catheter-related REs. The most common included trolley collisions (n=142), intravenous fluid line catching/tangling (n=93), agitation/aggression events (n=31) and cardiac monitoring issues (n=31). Thirty-four (6.5%) REs resulted in an undesirable patient outcome, most commonly distress and pain. Predisposing factors for REs included an equipment number ≥3 (IRR 5.68, 95% CI 3.95 to 8.17), transport to a general ward (IRR 2.68, 95% CI 2.12 to 3.39), hypertension (IRR 1.93, 95% CI 1.07 to 3.50), an abnormal temperature and a GCS<14.

Conclusions REs are common in transport of patients from the ED and can result in undesirable patient outcomes. Adequate pre-transfer preparation, especially securing equipment and lines, would result in a reduced risk.

  • emergency department
  • performance improvement
  • risk management
  • safety

Data availability statement

Data are available upon reasonable request.

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