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Hoechter, Dominik J.; Schmalbach, Bjarne; Schmidt, Merve; Prueckner, Stephan; Bayer, Andreas (2023): Impact of a ground intermediate transport from the helicopter landing site at a hospital on transport duration and patient safety. Scandinavian Journal of Trauma, Resuscitation and Emergency Medicine, 31 (1). ISSN 1757-7241

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Helicopter emergency medical service provides timely care and rapid transport of severely injured or critically ill patients. Due to constructional or regulatory provisions at some hospitals, a remote helicopter landing site necessitates an intermediate ground transport to the emergency department by ambulance which might lengthen patient transport time and comprises the risk of disconnection or loss of vascular access lines, breathing tubes or impairment of other relevant equipment during the loading processes. The aim of this study was to evaluate if a ground intermediate transport at the hospital site prolonged patient transport times and operating times or increases complication rates.

A retrospective analysis of all missions of a German air rescue service between 2012 and 2020 was conducted. Need of a ground transport at the accepting hospital, transfer time from the helipad to the hospital, overall patient transport time from the emergency location or the referring hospital to the accepting hospital and duration of the mission were analyzed. Several possible confounders such as type of mission, mechanical ventilation of the patient, use of syringe infusion pumps (SIPs), day- or nighttime were considered.

Of a total of 179,003 missions (92,773 (51,8%) primary rescue missions, 10,001 (5,6%) polytrauma patients) 86,230 (48,2%) secondary transfers) an intermediate transport by ambulance occurred in 40,459 (22,6%) cases. While transfer times were prolonged from 6.3 to 8.8 min for primary rescue cases (p < 0.001) and from 9.2 to 13.5 min for interhospital retrieval missions (p < 0.001), the overall patient transport time was 14.8 versus 15.8 min (p < 0.001) in primary rescue and 23.5 versus 26.8 min (p < 0.001) in interhospital transfer. Linear regression analysis revealed a mean time difference of 3.91 min for mechanical ventilation of a patient (p < 0.001), 7.06 min for the use of SIPs (p < 0.001) and 2.73 min for an intermediate ambulance transfer (p < 0.001). There was no relevant difference of complication rates seen.

An intermediate ground transport from a remote helicopter landing site to the emergency department by ambulance at the receiving hospital had a minor impact on transportation times and complication rates.

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