Mass Transfer of Pediatric Tertiary Care Hospital Inpatients to a New Location in Under 12 Hours: Lessons Learned and Implications for Disaster Preparedness


      To report an experience with large-scale rapid transportation of hospitalized children, highlighting elements applicable to a disaster event.

      Study design

      This was a retrospective study of the relocation of an entire pediatric inpatient population. Mitigation steps included postponement of elective procedures, implementation of planned discharges, and transfer of selected patients to satellite hospitals. Drills and simulations were used to estimate travel times and develop contingency plans. A transfer queue was modified as necessary to account for changing acuity. The Hospital Incident Command System was used.


      Thirteen critical care teams, 5 general crews, 2 vans, and 4 other vehicles transferred a total of 111 patients 8.5 miles in 11.6 hours. Patients were transferred along parallel (vs series) circuits, allowing simultaneous movement of patients from different areas. Sixty-four patients (including 32 infants) were considered critically ill; 24 of these patients required ventilator support, 3 required inhaled nitric oxide, 30 required continuous infusions, and 4 had an external ventricular drain. There were no adverse outcomes.


      Mass inpatient pediatric transfers can be managed rapidly and safely with parallel transfers. Preexisting agreements with regional pediatric teams are imperative. Disaster preparedness concepts, including preplanning, evacuation priorities, recovery analysis, and prevention/mitigation, can be applied to this event.
      AC ( Acute care), CC ( Critical care), CCT ( Critical care transport), ED ( Emergency department), EHR ( Electronic health record), FFL ( Flight for Life), HICS ( Hospital Incident Command System), MCI ( Mass casualty incident)
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