Children’s retrieval service saves 833 lives

21 February 2019 

Children’s Health Queensland’s paediatric retrieval teams transported 833 critically ill and injured children from across Queensland and northern New South Wales to life-saving specialist care in 2018.

Of this figure, 655 were brought to the Queensland Children’s Hospital, 83 to the Gold Coast University Hospital, 62 to the Sunshine Coast University Hospital and the remainder to other public and private hospitals in Queensland and interstate.

Children’s Health Queensland Chief Executive Fionnagh Dougan said the Children’s Health Queensland Retrieval Service (CHQRS) transfer teams (made up of a paediatric intensive care doctor and nurse) played a vital role in providing sick children, regardless of where they live, with timely, specialist care when they needed it most.

“When a child requires urgent specialist care, our retrieval teams ensure they are transferred safely by road or air, and often deliver life-saving treatments, such as ECMO (life support), en route,” Ms Dougan said.

“Starting these treatments as early as possible can make a significant difference to the health outcomes for patients and their families.”

“Where appropriate a child will be retrieved to a hospital as close to their home as possible, which is better for them and their families.”

In 2018, the top 10 locations for retrievals by CHQRS were Ipswich (86), Logan (72), The Prince Charles Hospital (65), Caboolture (47), Toowoomba Base Hospital (41), Sunshine Coast University Hospital (36), Redcliffe (35), Gladstone (28), Redlands (24), Rockhampton (23), and the Gold Coast University Hospital (23).

The service also regularly provided critical retrievals in rural and remote Queensland, including Kingaroy (21), Chinchilla (13), Emerald (13) and Cherbourg (13).

Forty-one per cent of children transferred by CHQRS in 2018 were under 12 months, and 32 per cent were aged between one and five years, with the top three diagnoses being bronchiolitis, diabetic ketoacidosis, and seizures.

Ms Dougan said the demand for specialised paediatric retrievals had increased by 12% since 2015.

“To support this growth, CHQRS has increased the number of teams available and established educational roles to upskill staff, both within the service and in regional areas, to ensure the ongoing quality of coordination and retrievals,” Ms Dougan said.

In 2018, CHQRS specialists also co-ordinated or advised on 1047 paediatric cases transferred by the Royal Flying Doctors Service, RACQ LifeFlight, or, in some cases, safely treated by local clinicians.


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