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Should parents accompany critically ill children during inter-hospital transport?
  1. J Davies,
  2. S M Tibby,
  3. I A Murdoch
  1. Department of Paediatric Intensive Care, Guy’s and Saint Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust, London, UK
  1. Correspondence to:
    Dr S Tibby
    Paediatric Intensive Care Unit, Guy’s and Saint Thomas’ NHS Foundation, Guy’s Hospital, St Thomas Street, London SE1 9RT, UK;


Background: Parental accompaniment during inter-hospital transportation (retrieval) of critically ill children is not commonplace in the United Kingdom.

Methods: A three month pilot of parental accompaniment was undertaken in 2002 (143 retrievals), after which time the policy was adopted as standard practice. A follow up audit was performed in 2004 (136 retrievals).

Results: Findings were remarkably consistent between the two periods. Staff perceived little or no added stress during the majority of transfers (96% in 2002, 98% in 2004), and felt able to perform medical interventions without hindrance (98% in 2002, 100% in 2004). There was good agreement between medical and nursing staff regarding perception of stress and ability to perform interventions (phi statistic 0.57 to 1.00). Adverse events occurred during 11 (3.9%) retrievals; six of these involved a parent exclusively. Stress tended to be associated with adverse events or parental behaviour rather than disease acuity. Staff vetoed the offer of accompaniment on 11 occasions, for a variety of reasons. The majority of parents found the experience safe, beneficial, and perceived a reduction in stress as a result. These data may inform other retrieval services who are considering adopting a similar policy.

  • inter-hospital transport
  • parental accompaniment
  • paediatric transport

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  • Published Online First 12 May 2005

  • Competing interests: none

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