Reasons underlying interhospital transfers to an academic medical intensive care unit

Purpose: Interhospital critical care transfers are common, yet few studies address the underlying reasons for transfers. We examined clinician and patient/surrogate perceptions about interhospital transfers and assessed their agreement on these transfers. Materials and methods: This is a mixed-mode survey of 3 major stakeholders in interhospital transfers to an academic medical intensive care unit from August 2007 to April 2008. Results: Sixty-two hospitals transferred 138 patients during the study period. Response rates varied among stakeholders (accepting physician, 90%; referring physicians, 20%; patients/surrogates, 33%). All 3 groups frequently endorsed quality of care and need for a specific test/procedure as important. Referring hospital reputation and quality were rarely endorsed. Accepting physicians and patients/surrogates substantially agreed on the need for a specific test (kappa = 0.70) and increased survival (kappa = 0.78) but, otherwise, had fair to poor agreement. Referring physicians and patients/surrogates rarely agreed and sometimes disagreed greater than expected by chance (kappa < 0). Physician pairs strongly agreed on the importance of accepting hospital experience (kappa = 0.96) but agreed less on patient satisfaction at the referring hospital (kappa = 0.37) and referring hospital reputation (kappa = 0.35). Conclusions: Stakeholders do not always agree on the reasons for critical care transfers. Efforts to improve communication are warranted to ensure informed patient choices. (C) 2013 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.