Objective: Interhospital transfers (IHTs) to tertiary care centers are linked to lower operative mortality in vascular surgery patients. However, IHT incurs great health care costs, and some transfers may be unnecessary or futile. In this study, we characterize the patterns of IHT at a tertiary care center to examine appropriateness of transfer for vascular surgery care. Methods: A retrospective review was performed of all IHT requests made to our institution from July 2014 to October 2015. Interhospital physician communication and reasons for not accepting transfers were reviewed. Diagnosis, intervention, referring hospital size, and mortality were examined. Follow-up for all patients was reviewed. Results: We reviewed 235 IHT requests for vascular surgical care involving 210 patients during 15 months; 33% of requested transfers did not occur, most commonly after communication with the physician resulting in reassurance (35%), clinic referral (30%), or further local workup obviating need for transfer (11%); 67% of requests were accepted. Accepted transfers generally carried life- or limb-threatening diagnoses (70%). Next most common transfer reasons were infection or nonhealing wounds (7%) and nonurgent postoperative complications (7%). Of accepted transfers, 72% resulted in operative or endovascular intervention; 20% were performed <8 hours of arrival, 12% <24 hours of arrival, and 68% during hospital admission (average of 3 days); 28% of accepted patients received no intervention. Small hospitals (<100 beds) were more likely than large hospitals (>300 beds) to transfer patients not requiring intervention (47% vs 18%; P =.005) and for infection or nonhealing wounds (30% vs 10%; P =.013). Based on referring hospital size, there was no difference in IHTs requiring emergent, urgent, or nonurgent operations. There was also no difference in transport time, time from consultation to arrival, or death of patients according to hospital size. Overall patient mortality was 12%. Conclusions: Expectedly, most vascular surgery IHTs are for life- or limb-threatening diagnoses, and most of these patients receive an operation. Transfer efficiency and surgical case urgency are similar across hospital sizes. Nonoperative IHTs are sent more often by small hospitals and may represent a resource disparity that would benefit from regionalizing nonurgent vascular care.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine