COVID-19 has exacerbated already strained processes for transferring patients in and out of hospitals. Given a higher volume of patients needing specialized care coupled with ongoing staffing issues plaguing health systems nationwide, the lack of standardization for transferring patients has serious consequences.
Transfers are initiated when a hospital does not have the capacity or capability to treat a patient. However, without a standardized transfer process within and outside health systems and hospitals, the risk of moving a patient may outweigh the risk of caring for them at the originating hospital, even in a setting that lacks the ideal space, equipment or personnel.
Patient transfer troubles are not new, yet the pandemic has overwhelmed hospitals like never before. Patient volume poses increasingly significant transfer challenges and hospitals and health systems should prioritize standardization now before the next crisis hits.