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Specialist Retrieval Teams May Increase Pediatric Survival

Lower mortality rates found in children transferred to pediatric intensive care units by specialists

THURSDAY, Aug. 12 (HealthDay News) -- The use of specialist retrieval teams to move children from one hospital to another with a pediatric intensive care unit (PICU) may result in reduced mortality for those children, according to research published online Aug. 12 in The Lancet.

Padmanabhan Ramnarayan, M.D., of the Great Ormond Street Hospital in London, and colleagues analyzed data on 57,997 admissions to PICUs in children age 16 and younger. They compared unplanned admissions from other hospitals and from wards in the same hospital as the PICU; interhospital transfers by specialist retrieval teams and non-specialist teams; and patients transferred to the closest PICU and those who were not.

The researchers found that 17,649 (53 percent) of the unplanned PICU admissions were from other hospitals. Children transferred from other hospitals tended to be younger and more ill at time of admission, to have a higher mortality rate, and to stay longer in PICUs; however, the risk-adjusted mortality rate in PICUs was 35 percent lower for these transferred children than for those moved to the PICU from within the same hospital. In addition, use of a specialist retrieval team to transfer children was associated with a 42 percent reduction in mortality compared with use of a non-specialist team.

"These findings support the policy of combining centralization of intensive care services for children with transfer by specialist retrieval teams," the authors write.

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