Retrieval and transfer

Inter-hospital retrieval and transfer of major trauma patients is a crucial phase in patient care. The process of retrieving injured patients from a referring health facility has the primary objective of improving their outcomes through coordinated support and timely transfer to an appropriate trauma service by highly capable transfer teams. It is important to note that an exhaustive clinical workup is not always necessary or appropriate prior to transfer. Stabilisation and ensuring life-threatening problems are addressed, as well as taking measures to prevent deterioration en route are essential aspects of early care.

Once retrieval staff arrive on scene, be prepared to give a thorough handover. Retrieval staff will assess the patient prior to transfer and may make changes to their care in order to ensure the patient is safe during transfer.

Adult Retrieval Victoria recommends the IRMIST-AMBO method of handover for facilitating health professional communication and ensuring clarity and completeness.

Ensuring patient readiness for transfer

Retrieval response

Final preparation of the patient should be made before the actual move, with conscious anticipation of their clinical needs. The patient must be reassessed before transport begins, especially after being placed on monitoring equipment and a transport ventilator (if used). Transport preparations must not overshadow or neglect the patient's fundamental care. An example of a brief check on the patient is listed below.
  • The airway is secured and patent.
  • Ventilation is adequate; respiratory variables are appropriate.
  • All equipment alarms are switched on.
  • The patient is haemodynamically stable.
  • Vital signs are displayed on transport monitors and are clearly visible to transport staff.
  • PEEP/CPAP (if set) and FiO2 levels are correct.
  • All drains (urinary, wound or underwater seal) are functioning and secured.
  • The underwater seal drain is not clamped.
  • Venous access is adequate and patent.
  • Intravenous drips and infusion pumps are functioning properly.
  • All electrical equipment is plugged in and charged.
  • The patient is safely secured on a trolley.
Notify the patient’s family or next of kin of their transfer and ensure all the patient’s property is secured.

ARV or PIPER will provide updates to the receiving trauma services en route to ensure staff are fully aware of the patient’s condition and are ready to intervene when necessary on arrival to the MTS.