BACKGROUND: Despite the high risk for patient harm during unanticipated ICU evacuations, critical care providers receive little to no training on how to perform safe and effective ICU evacuations. We reviewed the pertinent published literature and offer suggestions for the critical care provider regarding ICU evacuation. The suggestions in this article are important for all who are involved in pandemics or disasters with multiple critically ill or injured patients, including front-line clinicians, hospital administrators, and public health or government officials. METHODS: The Evacuation and Mobilization topic panel used the American College of Chest Physicians (CHEST) Guidelines Oversight Committee's methodology to develop seven key questions for which specific literature searches were conducted to identify studies upon which evidence-based recommendations could be made. No studies of sufficient quality were identified. Therefore, the panel developed expert opinion-based suggestions using a modified Delphi process. RESULTS: Based on current best evidence, we provide 13 suggestions outlining a systematic approach to prepare for and execute an effective ICU evacuation during a disaster. Interhospital and intrahospital collaboration and functional ICU communication are critical for success. Pre-event planning and preparation are required for a no-notice evacuation. A Critical Care Team Leader must be designated within the Hospital Incident Command System. A three-stage ICU Evacuation Timeline, including (1) no immediate threat, (2) evacuation threat, and (3) evacuation implementation, should be used. Detailed suggestions on ICU evacuation, including regional planning, evacuation drills, patient transport preparation and equipment, patient prioritization and distribution for evacuation, patient information and tracking, and federal and international evacuation assistance systems, are also provided. CONCLUSIONS: Successful ICU evacuation during a disaster requires active preparation, participation, communication, and leadership by critical care providers. Critical care providers have a professional obligation to become better educated, prepared, and engaged with the processes of ICU evacuation to provide a safe continuum of critical care during a disaster.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
- Critical Care and Intensive Care Medicine
- Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine