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1.  West Nile virus 
Canadian Family Physician  2005;51(6):833-837.
OBJECTIVE
To provide primary care physicians with an understanding of West Nile virus in North America. This article focuses on epidemiology, clinical features, diagnosis, and prevention of infection.
QUALITY OF EVIDENCE
MEDLINE and EMBASE searches revealed epidemiologic, surveillance, cohort, and outcome studies providing level II evidence. There were no randomized controlled trials of treatment. Recommended prevention and treatment strategies are based on level II and III evidence.
MAIN MESSAGE
The mosquito-borne virus that first appeared on this continent in 1999 is now prevalent throughout North America. Most infections are asymptomatic. Fewer than 1% of those infected develop severe illness; 3% to 15% of those with severe illness die. While methods for controlling the mosquito population are available, we lack evidence that they reduce infection in the general human population. Family physicians have an important role in advising their patients on ways to prevent infection and in identifying patients who might be infected with West Nile virus.
CONCLUSION
The general population is at low risk of West Nile virus infection. Prevention of infection rests on controlling the mosquito population and educating people on how to protect themselves against mosquito bites.
PMCID: PMC1479528  PMID: 15986939
2.  Impact of prehospital mode of transport after severe injury: A multicenter evaluation from the Resuscitation Outcomes Consortium 
BACKGROUND
There is ongoing controversy about the relative effectiveness of air medical versus ground transportation for severely injured patients. In some systems, air medical crews may provide a higher level of care but may require longer transport times. We sought to evaluate the impact of mode of transport on outcome based on analysis of data from two randomized trials of prehospital hypertonic resuscitation.
METHODS
Injured patients were enrolled based on prehospital evidence of hypovolemic shock (systolic blood pressure ≤70 mm Hg or systolic blood pressure = 71–90 mm Hg with heart rate ≤108 bpm) or severe traumatic brain injury (TBI; Glasgow Coma Scale score ≤8). Patient demographics, injury severity, and physiology were compared based on mode of transport. Multivariate logistic regression was used to determine the impact of mode of transport on 24-hour and 28-day survival for all patients and 6-month extended Glasgow Outcome Scale for patients with TBI, adjusting for differences in injury severity.
RESULTS
Included were 2,049 patients, of which 703 (34%) were transported by air. Patients transported by air were more severely injured (mean Injury Severity Score, 30.3 vs. 22.8; p < 0.001), more likely to be in the TBI cohort (70% vs. 55.4%; p < 0.001), and more likely blunt mechanism (94.0% vs. 78.1%; p < 0.001). Patients transported by air had higher rates of prehospital intubation (81% vs. 36%; p < 0.001), received more intravenous fluids (mean 1.3 L vs. 0.8 L; p < 0.001), and had longer prehospital times (mean 76.1 minutes vs. 43.5 minutes; p < 0.001). Adjusted analysis revealed no significant impact of mode of transport on survival or 6-month neurologic outcome (air transport—28-day survival: odds ratio, 1.11; 95% confidence interval, 0.82–1.51; 6-month extended Glasgow Outcome Scale score ≤4: odds ratio, 0.94; 95% confidence interval, 0.68 – 1.31).
CONCLUSION
There was no difference in the adjusted clinical outcome according to mode of transport. However, air medical transported more severely injured patients with more advanced life support procedures and longer prehospital time.
LEVEL OF EVIDENCE
III.
doi:10.1097/TA.0b013e31824baddf
PMCID: PMC3495608  PMID: 22491538
Air medical; emergency medical services; transport: hypovolemic shock; traumatic brain injury
8.  Pre-Hospital Care Management of a Potential Spinal Cord Injured Patient: A Systematic Review of the Literature and Evidence-Based Guidelines 
Journal of Neurotrauma  2011;28(8):1341-1361.
Abstract
An interdisciplinary expert panel of medical and surgical specialists involved in the management of patients with potential spinal cord injuries (SCI) was assembled. Four key questions were created that were of significant interest. These were: (1) what is the optimal type and duration of pre-hospital spinal immobilization in patients with acute SCI?; (2) during airway manipulation in the pre-hospital setting, what is the ideal method of spinal immobilization?; (3) what is the impact of pre-hospital transport time to definitive care on the outcomes of patients with acute spinal cord injury?; and (4) what is the role of pre-hospital care providers in cervical spine clearance and immobilization? A systematic review utilizing multiple databases was performed to determine the current evidence about the specific questions, and each article was independently reviewed and assessed by two reviewers based on inclusion and exclusion criteria. Guidelines were then created related to the questions by a national Canadian expert panel using the Delphi method for reviewing the evidence-based guidelines about each question. Recommendations about the key questions included: the pre-hospital immobilization of patients using a cervical collar, head immobilization, and a spinal board; utilization of padded boards or inflatable bean bag boards to reduce pressure; transfer of patients off of spine boards as soon as feasible, including transfer of patients off spinal boards while awaiting transfer from one hospital institution to another hospital center for definitive care; inclusion of manual in-line cervical spine traction for airway management in patients requiring intubation in the pre-hospital setting; transport of patients with acute traumatic SCI to the definitive hospital center for care within 24 h of injury; and training of emergency medical personnel in the pre-hospital setting to apply criteria to clear patients of cervical spinal injuries, and immobilize patients suspected of having cervical spinal injury.
doi:10.1089/neu.2009.1168
PMCID: PMC3143405  PMID: 20175667
pre-hospital care; spinal cord injury; systematic review
9.  Inter-Facility Patient Transfers in Ontario: Do You Know What Your Local Ambulance Is Being Used For? 
Healthcare Policy  2009;4(3):53-66.
Background:
Little is known about inter-facility patient transfers in populations. In 2003, detailed information about inter-facility patient transfers began to be systematically collected in Ontario.
Methodology:
The authors undertook a descriptive examination of inter-facility patient transfers using a newly created population-based information system.
Results:
Approximately 1,000 inter-facility patient transfers occur in Ontario each day, and every day and a half, the total distance travelled for these transfers equals the distance around the earth's circumference. The annual cost for patient transfers is approximately $283 million. Most common were routine and non-urgent inter-facility patient transfers. Eighty-five thousand patients (24.3% of transferred patients) were transported between healthcare facilities for dialysis appointments, appointments with physicians and return trips home. Patients with circulatory conditions were the most commonly transferred diagnostic group. Although 70% of all transfers were within 25 kilometres, some were for longer distances: for example, those involving pregnant women and newborn babies required travelling a median distance of 40.3 kilometres for continued care. Cardiac patients (54,000 patient transfers per year) travelled a median of 24.2 kilometres to reach a catheterization lab for treatment and further investigation. There was considerable lateral movement between academic health sciences centres (AHSCs). Over 16,000 patients per year (4.7% of all transfers) were transferred from one AHSC to another, predominantly for cardiac care.
Discussion:
Patients in Ontario are often transferred between healthcare facilities. Most transfers are for routine, non–life-threatening reasons, using the Emergency Medical Services (EMS) system. This practice diverts resources from more emergent requests. Although patient transportation is a necessary part of any healthcare system, the results of this study highlight the current demands on a system that was not intended for the volume of inter-facility patient transfers it is supporting. These results call into question the use of sophisticated, highly trained, expensive patient transfer resources to provide routine medical services in Ontario.
PMCID: PMC2653709  PMID: 19377355
10.  Incidence and predictors of critical events during urgent air–medical transport 
Background
Little is known about the risks of urgent air–medical transport used in regionalized health care systems. We sought to determine the incidence of intransit critical events and identify factors associated with these events.
Methods
We conducted a population-based, retrospective cohort study using clinical and administrative data. We included all adults undergoing urgent air–medical transport in the Canadian province of Ontario between Jan. 1, 2004, and May 31, 2006. The primary outcome was in-transit critical events, which we defined as death, major resuscitative procedure, hemodynamic deterioration, or inadvertent extubation or respiratory arrest.
Results
We identified 19 228 patients who underwent air–medical transport during the study period. In-transit critical events were observed in 5.1% of all transports, for a rate of 1 event per 12.6 hours of transit time. Events consisted primarily of new hypotension or airway management procedures. Independent predictors of critical events included female sex (adjusted odds ratio [OR] 1.3, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.1–1.5), assisted ventilation before transport (adjusted OR 3.0, 95% CI 2.3–3.7), hemodynamic instability before transport (adjusted OR 3.2, 95% CI 2.5–4.1), transport in a fixed-wing aircraft (adjusted OR 1.5, 95% CI 1.2–1.8), increased duration of transport (adjusted OR 1.02 per 10-minute increment, 95% CI 1.01–1.03), on-scene calls (adjusted OR 1.7, 95% CI 1.4–2.1) and type of crew (adjusted OR 0.6 for advanced care paramedics v. critical care paramedics, 95% CI 0.5–0.7).
Interpretation
Critical events occurred in about 1 in every 20 air–medical transports and were associated with multiple risk factors at the patient, transport and system levels. These findings have implications for the refinement of training of paramedic transport crews and processes for triage and transport.
doi:10.1503/cmaj.080886
PMCID: PMC2764752  PMID: 19752105
11.  Pro/con debate: Do the benefits of regionalized critical care delivery outweigh the risks of interfacility patient transport? 
Critical Care  2009;13(4):219.
You are providing input in planning for critical care services to a large regional health authority. You are considering concentrating some critical care services into high-volume regional centres of excellence, as has been done in other fields of medicine. In your region, this would require several centres with differing levels of expertise that are geographically separated. Given there are inherent risks and time delays associated with interfacility patient transport, you debate whether these potential risks outweigh the benefits of regional centres of excellence.
doi:10.1186/cc7883
PMCID: PMC2750128  PMID: 19678918
12.  Validation of the Provincial Transfer Authorization Centre database: a comprehensive database containing records of all inter-facility patient transfers in the province of Ontario 
Background
The Provincial Transfer Authorization Centre (PTAC) was established as a part of the emergency response in Ontario, Canada to the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) outbreak in 2003. Prior to 2003, data relating to inter-facility patient transfers were not collected in a systematic manner. Then, in an emergency setting, a comprehensive database with a complex data collection process was established. For the first time in Ontario, population-based data for patient movement between healthcare facilities for a population of twelve million are available. The PTAC database stores all patient transfer data in a large database. There are few population-based patient transfer databases and the PTAC database is believed to be the largest example to house this novel dataset. A patient transfer database has also never been validated. This paper presents the validation of the PTAC database.
Methods
A random sample of 100 patient inter-facility transfer records was compared to the corresponding institutional patient records from the sending healthcare facilities. Measures of agreement, including sensitivity, were calculated for the 12 common data variables.
Results
Of the 100 randomly selected patient transfer records, 95 (95%) of the corresponding institutional patient records were located. Data variables in the categories patient demographics, facility identification and timing of transfer and reason and urgency of transfer had strong agreement levels. The 10 most commonly used data variables had accuracy rates that ranged from 85.3% to 100% and error rates ranging from 0 to 12.6%. These same variables had sensitivity values ranging from 0.87 to 1.0.
Conclusion
The very high level of agreement between institutional patient records and the PTAC data for fields compared in this study supports the validity of the PTAC database. For the first time, a population-based patient transfer database has been established. Although it was created during an emergency situation and data collection is dependent on front-line medical workers, the PTAC data has achieved a high level of validity, perhaps even higher than many purpose built databases created during non-emergency settings.
doi:10.1186/1472-6963-6-129
PMCID: PMC1609112  PMID: 17026763
13.  Outcomes of interfacility critical care adult patient transport: a systematic review 
Critical Care  2005;10(1):R6.
Introduction
We aimed to determine the adverse events and important prognostic factors associated with interfacility transport of intubated and mechanically ventilated adult patients.
Methods
We performed a systematic review of MEDLINE, CENTRAL, EMBASE, CINAHL, HEALTHSTAR, and Web of Science (from inception until 10 January 2005) for all clinical studies describing the incidence and predictors of adverse events in intubated and mechanically ventilated adult patients undergoing interfacility transport. The bibliographies of selected articles were also examined.
Results
Five studies (245 patients) met the inclusion criteria. All were case-series and two were prospective in design. Due to the paucity of studies and significant heterogeneity in study population, outcome events, and results, we synthesized data in a qualitative manner. Pre-transport severity of illness was reported in only one study. The most common indication for transport was a need for investigations and/or specialist care (three studies, 220 patients). Transport modalities included air (fixed or rotor wing; 66% of patients) and ground (31%) ambulance, and commercial aircraft (3%). Transport teams included a physician in three studies (220 patients). Death during transfer was rare (n = 1). No other adverse events or significant therapeutic interventions during transport were reported. One study reported a 19% (28/145) incidence of respiratory alkalosis on arrival and another study documented a 30% overall intensive care unit mortality, while no adverse events or outcomes were reported after arrival in the three other studies.
Conclusion
Insufficient data exist to draw firm conclusions regarding the mortality, morbidity, or risk factors associated with the interfacility transport of intubated and mechanically ventilated adult patients. Further study is required to define the risks and benefits of interfacility transfer in this patient population. Such information is important for the planning and allocation of resources related to transporting critically ill adults.
doi:10.1186/cc3924
PMCID: PMC1550794  PMID: 16356212

Results 1-13 (13)