Emergency Pediatric Orthopaedic Transfer Criteria: A Pilot Study


The purpose of this study was to define pediatric orthopaedic transfer criteria for patients coming from a smaller facility to a Level I pediatric trauma center. A 10-question phone survey was utilized for every transfer request. Fifty-eight transfer requests were prospectively collected and retrospectively reviewed. The criteria were based on The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) guidelines and the expert opinion of the senior author. The AAP criteria included complex fractures/dislocations and bone and joint infections. The expert opinion criteria included a patient requiring admission to the hospital or a patient needing surgery. All centers requesting transfers were staffed by an on-call board-certified general orthopaedic surgeon with the ability to care for pediatric orthopaedic injuries. Of the 58 transfers, 37 (64%) did not meet transfer criteria; 21 (36%) met transfer criteria. Transfer requests came from Emergency Department (ED) physicians in 25/58 cases (43%), physician assistants in 11/58 (19%), orthopaedic a”ending physicians in 3/58 (5%), and orthopaedic residents in 3/58 (5%). The orthopaedic surgeon at the referring hospital examined the patient in only six instances (10%) prior to transfer. Of the 58 patients, 18 (31%) required a hospital admission, and 17 (29%) patients were indicated for surgery. In the current study, 64% of pediatric orthopaedic transfers did not meet criteria for an inter-facility hospital to hospital transfer and were potentially avoidable. (Journal of Surgical Orthopaedic Advances 32(3):182–186, 2023)

Key words: orthopaedics, pediatric, orthopaedic transfers

SKU: JSOA-2023-32-3-7 Categories: , Tags: , ,

Gregory S. Mowrer, MD; Nicholas I. Pilla, MD; Scott M. Sorenson, MD; Douglas G. Armstrong, MD; and William L. Hennrikus, MD