Transporting critically ill patients
Kim L. Greenawalt BSN, RN, CCRN

April 2012 
Volume 42  Number 4
Pages 58 - 61
  PDF Version Available!

WHEN CRITICALLY ILL PATIENTS must be transported through the hospital for diagnostic or therapeutic procedures, they're at increased risk for complications, including death. This article describes how to coordinate equipment and ancillary staff to ensure a safe transport while meeting the patient's physiologic needs.Before the transport occurs, verify that the receiving department is ready for the patient so the test or procedure can take place as soon as the patient arrives. Alert ancillary staff of the transport if they'll be required to accompany the patient.1 With advance notice, they can coordinate equipment and coverage for the unit in their absence.The patient's medical record should always accompany the patient, and hand-off communication should occur between the patient's caregivers in an organized manner. Information that should be included in the hand-off includes the patient's name, age, room number, physician, diagnosis, and current medications and treatments.2 Other information that may be communicated at handoff includes (but isn't limited to) pertinent historical data (including previous treatments), symptoms, significant assessment findings, supplemental oxygen requirements, vital signs, abnormal lab values, I.V. fluids and rates, cardiac rhythm, presence of drains, and equipment in use. Also communicate whether the patient has any special needs or uses sensory aids such as glasses or a hearing aid.When you're ready to leave the patient's room, ask a colleague to call the elevator and hold it so you aren't delayed waiting for it. The patient also shouldn't wait in a holding area. The goal is to return the patient to his or her room as soon as possible.1At least two healthcare providers (one being the patient's assigned nurse) should accompany a patient who's being transported to another department. If the patient's assigned nurse can't accompany the patient (for example, because the patient is being transported to another facility), a critical care

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