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Central Venous Access Capability and Critical Care Telemedicine Decreases Inter-Hospital Transfer Among Severe Sepsis Patients: A Mixed Methods Design

Ilko, Steven A. BA1; Vakkalanka, J. Priyanka ScM1,2; Ahmed, Azeemuddin MD, MBA1,3; Harland, Karisa K. PhD, MPH1,2; Mohr, Nicholas M. MD, MS1,2,4

doi: 10.1097/CCM.0000000000003686
Clinical Investigations

Objectives: Severe sepsis is a complex, resource intensive, and potentially lethal condition and rural patients have worse outcomes than urban patients. Early identification and treatment are important to improving outcomes. The objective of this study was to identify hospital-specific factors associated with inter-hospital transfer.

Design: Mixed method study integrating data from a telephone survey and retrospective cohort study of state administrative claims.

Setting and Subjects: Survey of Iowa emergency department administrators between May 2017 and June 2017 and cohort of adults seen in Iowa emergency departments for severe sepsis and septic shock between January 2005 and December 2013.

Interventions: None.

Measurements and Main Results: Multivariable logistic regression was used to identify independent predictors of inter-hospital transfer. We included 114 institutions that provided data (response rate = 99%), and responses were linked to a total of 150,845 visits for severe sepsis/septic shock. In our adjusted model, having the capability to place central venous catheters or having a subscription to a tele-ICU service was independently associated with lower odds of inter-hospital transfer (adjusted odds ratio, 0.69; 95% CI, 0.54–0.86 and adjusted odds ratio, 0.69; 95% CI, 0.54–0.88, respectively). A facility’s participation in a sepsis-specific quality improvement initiative was associated with 62% higher odds of transfer (adjusted odds ratio, 1.62; 95% CI, 1.10–2.39).

Conclusions: The insertion of central venous catheters and access to a critical care physician during sepsis treatment are important capabilities in hospitals that transfer fewer sepsis patients. In the future, hospital-specific capabilities may be used to identify institutions as regional sepsis centers.

1Department of Emergency Medicine, University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine, Iowa City, IA.

2Department of Epidemiology, University of Iowa College of Public Health, Iowa City, IA.

3Department of Management and Organizations, University of Iowa Tippie College of Business, Iowa City, IA.

4Department of Anesthesia, University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine, Iowa City, IA.

This work was performed at the University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine, Iowa City, IA.

Mr. Ilko and Drs. Ahmed and Mohr conceived the study, designed the data collection tool, and obtained research funding. Mr. Ilko undertook participant recruitment and data collection with data collection oversight and quality control from Dr. Ahmed. Ms. Vakkalanka and Dr. Harland were responsible for management of the datasets. Ms. Vakkalanka and Drs. Harland and Mohr provided statistical advice on study design and analyzed the data. Mr. Ilko, Ms. Vakkalanka, and Dr. Mohr drafted the article. Dr. Mohr takes responsibility for the article as a whole. All authors contributed substantially to its revision.

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This was delivered as an oral presentation, in part, at the Medical Student Research Conference at the University of Iowa, Carver College of Medicine, Iowa City, IA, on September 14, 2017. It was delivered as a poster presentation at Society for Academic Emergency Medicine Great Plains Regional Meeting in Columbia, MO, on October 7, 2017.

Dr. Mohr disclosed that this research was funded by the HL007485 from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (Short Term Training for Students in the Health Professions) and support from the Department of Emergency Medicine, University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine. Mr. Ilko, Ms. Vakkalanka, and Dr. Mohr received support for article research from the NIH. Dr. Ahmed received funding from UptoDate. Dr. Harland disclosed that she does not have any potential conflicts of interest.

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