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Improving quality and safety during intrahospital transport of critically ill patients: A critical incident study.

Journal article
Authors Lina Bergman
Monica Pettersson
Wendy Chaboyer
Eric Carlström
Mona Ringdal
Published in Australian critical care : official journal of the Confederation of Australian Critical Care Nurses
Volume 33
Issue 1
Pages 12-19
ISSN 1036-7314
Publication year 2020
Published at Institute of Health and Care Sciences
Pages 12-19
Language en
Keywords Critical incident technique, Intensive care unit, Intrahospital transport, Nontechnical skills, Patient safety, Teamwork
Subject categories Anesthesiology and Intensive Care, Nursing


Intrahospital transport is a high-risk procedure for critically ill patients, yet there is little known about how the transport team manages critical incidents that occur.The aim of this study was to explore critical care nurses' and physicians' experiences and practices associated with critical incidents during the transfer process in critically ill patients.As a part of an ethnographic study, semistructured interviews were performed using the critical incident technique. Data were collected in two intensive care units at one university hospital in a Swedish metropolitan city. Critical care nurses (n = 15) and physicians (n = 5) were interviewed, together describing a total of 46 critical incidents. Data were analysed using qualitative content and thematic analysis approaches.Content analysis of nurses' and physicians' practices resulted in a description of requirements for safe transports, including organisational prerequisites, professional skills and attributes, as well as actions and behaviours of safely performing transfers. Exploring the experiences of nurses and physicians in transporting critically ill patients yielded three main themes. The first theme, a hazardous process, revealed how caring for critically ill patients during intrahospital transfers was perceived as an unsafe, demanding task that presents several threats to the patient's safety. However, despite worries and concerns, participants trusted their own abilities to handle unexpected events, resulting in the second theme, performing when it matters. The third theme, towards safe practice, captured suggestions for improvement and attitudes towards existing safety hazards.To prevent and manage critical incidents during intrahospital transport, findings of this study suggest that nontechnical skills such as situational awareness and teamwork are essential. In addition, the team must possess the requisite technical skills and knowledge to undertake transports. Finally, organisations are required to provide a supportive and sustainable transport environment that includes fewer transport-related hazards.

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