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Paediatric healthcare access in community health centres is associated with survival for critically ill children who undergo inter-facility transport: a province-wide observational study


Background — Diverse settlement makes inter-facility transport of critically ill children a necessary part of regionalized healthcare. There are few studies of outcomes and healthcare services use of this growing population.

Methods — A retrospective study evaluated the frequency of transports, healthcare services use, and outcomes of all critically ill children who underwent inter-facility transport to a paediatric intensive care unit (PICU) in Ontario from 2004 to 2012. The primary outcome was PICU mortality. Secondary outcomes were 24-hour and 6-month mortality, PICU and hospital lengths of stay, and use of therapies in the PICU.

Results — The 4,074 inter-facility transports were for children aged median (IQR) 1.6 (0.1 to 8.3) years. The rate of transports increased from 15 to 23 per 100,000 children. There were 233 (5.7%) deaths in PICU and an additional 78 deaths (1.9%) by 6 months. Length of stay was median (IQR) 2 (1 to 5) days in PICU and 7 (3 to 14) days in the receiving hospital. Lower PICU mortality was independently associated with prior acute care contact (odds ratio [OR]=0.3, 95% confidence interval [CI]: 0.2 to 0.6) and availability of paediatric expertise at the referral hospital (OR=0.7, 95% CI: 0.5 to 1.0).

Conclusions — We found that in Ontario, children undergoing inter-facility transport to PICUs are increasing in number, consume significant acute care resources, and have a high PICU mortality. Access to paediatric expertise is a potentially modifiable factor that can impact mortality and warrants further evaluation.



Tijssen JA, To T, Morrison LJ, Alnaji F, MacDonald RD, Cupido C, Lee KS, Parshuram CS. Paediatr Child Health. 2020; 25(5):308-16. Epub 2019 Apr 26.

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