Interfacility Transfers: Pearls & Pitfalls for the Emergency Patient

  • Patients must be stabilized to the best of the facility’s ability prior to transfer. Any life-threatening process that requires immediate management must be treated prior to transfer.
  • If speciality consultation is required, it is important that as the receiving physician accepting a transfer, you ensure the specialist has agreed to accept and see the patient.
  • As a receiving physician, you have an obligation to report inappropriate transfers within 72 hours – not doing may result in unnecessary delays in the future.
  • A common pitfall for ED physicians is to perform an extensive evaluation on a trauma patient that requires a transfer. Recognize the resource limitations of your facility early. Avoid workups that won’t change patient management.
  • Frequently, patients are transferred long distances, which may make discharge difficult if there is limited social support. Engage case workers and discharge planners to address these unique situations.

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