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Air Transport Of The Critically Ill Emergency Department Patient

August 2012

Abstract

Critically ill patients often require the specialized care offered only at tertiary care centers and must frequently be transferred from referring emergency departments. This transportation often occurs by air. Currently, there are no widely accepted or mandated guidelines regulating critical care transport, and regional medical transport systems have disparate models of performing this service. It is essential for practicing emergency physicians to be aware of the current evidence supporting critical care transport as well as federal laws regarding transfer of patients. With the variability in medical systems, each region has diverse resources and protocols, and emergency physicians should be aware of these prior to needing to transfer a patient. Select populations should be considered for air transport, and certain patients will require resources beyond typical helicopter transport teams. This review highlights the indications for helicopter transport of critically ill emergency department patients, the capabilities of many critical care transport teams, and current controversies in the field.

Keywords: critical care transport, air transport, helicopter transport, air transport contraindications

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