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Prehosp Emerg Care. 2019 Apr 22:1-9. doi: 10.1080/10903127.2019.1610531. [Epub ahead of print]

Risk Factors for Non-optimal Resource Utilization for Emergent Interfacility Transfers by Air Ambulance in Ontario.



The use of air ambulance to facilitate interfacility transfer has been associated with improved mortality; however, air ambulance is a limited resource and sometimes the optimal resource to transport a patient is unavailable. When a non-optimal resource is used there is an inherent delay and critically unwell patients may deteriorate as a result. This study aimed to identify risk factors associated with non-optimal resource utilization for adult patients undergoing emergent interfacility transport by air ambulance in Ontario, Canada. A secondary objective was to determine if non-optimal resource utilization was associated with deterioration in clinical status by measuring a delta rapid emergency medicine score (REMS).


This was a retrospective cohort study of all emergent, adult interfacility transfers transported by air ambulance over a 5-year period in Ontario, Canada. Determination of optimal resource use was based on distances and historic time data for all sending-receiving facility pairs. A logistic regression model was used to explore patient, provider and institutional risk factors for non-optimal resource use. To explore the secondary objective a linear regression model was used to explore impact of non-optimal resource use on deltaREMS.


There were a total of 9,687 patients included in the study cohort, with 4,984 having an optimal resource use and 4,703 having non-optimal resource. The median delay in interfacility transfer caused by a non-optimal transfer strategy was 35.7 minutes. Patients who required mechanical ventilation (OR 1.13, p = 0.031) and or were transferred out of nursing stations had higher odds of non-optimal resource use (OR 2.84, p = 0.019). Paramedic level of care of advanced (OR 0.37, p = < 0.001) and critical care (OR 0.28, p = < 0.001) as well as spring season (OR 0.75, p = < 0.001) had lower odds of non-optimal resource utilization. Optimal resource utilization did not significantly affect delta REMS (beta coefficient 0.002, p = 0.64).


Patients who required mechanical ventilation and were transferred out from a nursing station had higher odds of non-optimal resource utilization while patients that required advanced or critical care level of care and spring season had lower odds of non-optimal resource use. Additionally, non-optimal resource use for air ambulance interfacility transfers did not result in patient deterioration as measured by a delta REMS score.


air ambulance; interfacility transfer; prehospital care

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