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Medevac patient safety upheld after airport switch

January 15, 2015

Health Quality Council of Alberta confirms high quality of care at new Edmonton base

The Health Quality Council of Alberta (HQCA) has released a report that confirms patient safety remains unchanged since Edmonton air ambulance operations relocated to the Edmonton International Airport (EIA).

HQCA reviewed 232 patient charts and found that the longer transport times between the new operations base and Edmonton area hospitals had no impact on safety or the quality of care received by critically-ill and time sensitive patients.

“We did not see any evidence of patient safety or care issues that could be associated directly with the relocation of medevac services to the Edmonton International Airport (EIA) from the Edmonton City Centre Airport,” explains Dr. John Tallon, who led the HQCA Medevac Chart Review Quality Assurance Review Team.Since opening in March 2013, more than 8,300 patients have been transported through the new Edmonton facility that is equipped with a six-bed transfer unit and a fleet of ground ambulances to help provide more immediate care.

“In fact, the transfer time from the Edmonton International Airport to the tertiary care hospital (University of Alberta Hospital or Royal Alexandra Hospital) was only about 15 per cent of the overall patient journey time in the cases we studied.”

The report also recognizes the work Alberta Health Services (AHS) has done to improve medevac services for Albertans. Since the HQCA’s first review, in 2011, AHS has implemented 15 of 18 recommendations.

“We are pleased the report mirrors our own analysis of patient outcomes which tells us that patients continue to receive high quality care, despite an increase in transport times,” says Dr. Ian Phelps, Senior Medical Director, EMS.

AHS began looking for a new home for its air ambulance operations in 2009, after the City of Edmonton made a decision to close the Edmonton City Centre Airport.

In consultation with 16 EMS Medical Directors, STARS transport physicians, Pediatric ICU transport team directors and EMS operations leadership, a relocation plan was developed that would allow AHS to provide even better service to its patients.

Since opening in March 2013, more than 8,300 patients have been transported through the new facility that is equipped with a six-bed transfer unit, a fleet of ground ambulances to help provide more immediate care for patients flying in and out of Edmonton and additional covered space so patients can be transferred indoors during bad weather.

The report makes five recommendations to help further improve medevac services, some of which are already being addressed or discussed. To view the entire report, please visit: www.hqca.ca.