Research

A national retrospective review of neonatal critical care transfers in dedicated critical care transport services in the private sector

M Venter, E Theron, W Williams, W Khan, W Stassen

Abstract


Background. South Africa (SA) has a shortage of dedicated neonatal critical care services, which are mostly concentrated in urban areas, thus illustrating the need for neonatal critical care transport (CCT) services. Neonates who are transported by teams without the requisite experience and knowledge in neonatal care are at risk of severe adverse events during transport. This has led to the development of dedicated CCT teams by some emergency medical services. There is a paucity of national literature describing the neonatal population who undergo CCT in dedicated services.

Objectives. To describe a sample of neonates who underwent CCT transfer by dedicated CCT services in the private sector in SA.

Methods. This observational cohort study with a retrospective descriptive design sampled all neonatal transfers completed during 1 year (1 January 2017 - 31 December 2017) from the dedicated CCT of the two largest national emergency medical services in SA. Data were extracted from patient report forms by trained data extractors, and subjected to descriptive analysis.

Results. A total of 444 neonates were transferred between the two services. A total of 760 diagnoses were recorded, yielding an average of ~2 diagnoses per patient. The most prevalent diagnosis was respiratory distress syndrome (n=139, 31%), followed by congenital heart defects (n=123, 28%) and prematurity (n=81, 18%). Patients had an average of ~4 attachments, with the most prevalent being patient monitoring (n=677, 152%). Just under half (n=182, 41%) of patients required ventilatory support. A total of 422 medications were required during transport, yielding a rate of ~1 medication or infusion per neonate transported. The most common infusion was maintenance (n=199, 45%), while almost 1 in 10 neonates required inotropic support (n=33, 7%).

Conclusions. This study provides insight into the demographics, most prevalent diagnoses, and interfacility transfer monitoring needs of neonates being transported in SA by two private dedicated CCT services. The results of this study should be used to inform future specialised neonatal CCT courses and qualifications, as well as the scopes of practice of providers transporting neonates.


Authors' affiliations

M Venter, Division of Emergency Medicine, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Cape Town, South Africa

E Theron, Division of Emergency Medicine, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Cape Town, South Africa

W Williams, Division of Emergency Medicine, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Cape Town, South Africa

W Khan, Division of Emergency Medicine, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Cape Town, South Africa

W Stassen, Division of Emergency Medicine, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Cape Town, South Africa

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Keywords

Critical care transport; Neonatal care; Interfacility transport

Cite this article

South African Medical Journal 2021;111(10):981-984. DOI:10.7196/SAMJ.2021.v111i10.15736

Article History

Date submitted: 2021-10-05
Date published: 2021-10-05

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