This research is a retrospective audit to identify the number and type of rural transfers from 18 rural hospitals to Toowoomba Hospital as the regional centre. It will aim to identify whether these referrals were appropriate by a retrospective chart review considering the medical management involved, the type of escort, hospital service required, and the timing and mode of transport. There is currently no clear indication of the magnitude of the potential problem with patient transfers and no validated method for obtaining this information. This research project will develop a method for using hospital data systems to quantify the number and nature of potential patient transfer problems. It will also provide a baseline measure of those potential problems.
This research will be phase one of a much broader body of work which will involve education & training of clinicians and nurses to improve appropriate transfers and the clinical quality and patient safety of those rural transfers that are required. This will have patient benefits in improving patient care during necessary transfers and also potentially keep patients closer to family where appropriate. Improving the quality of care in transfers and appropriateness of transfers will have economic benefits for the whole Hospital and Health Service as well as enhancing the knowledge of rural staff. These practices would then have the potential to be adopted nationally across all rural campuses.