Emergency Transfer to the Paediatric Intensive Care Unit - Preparing an Infant or Child for

Publication: 09/05/2016  
Next review: 18/02/2025  
Standard Operating Procedure
ID: 4637 
Approved By: Leeds Children’s Hospital Clinical Governance Group 
Copyright© Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust 2022  


This Standard Operating Procedure is intended for use by healthcare professionals within Leeds unless otherwise stated.
For healthcare professionals in other trusts, please ensure that you consult relevant local and national guidance.

Preparing an Infant or Child for Emergency Transfer to the Paediatric Intensive Care Unit


To standardise and optimise the stabilisation and transfer of critically ill infants and children to the Paediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) from other clinical areas within Leeds General Infirmary including the Leeds Children’s Hospital.

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Background and indications

Transferring any critically ill infant or child is challenging. Transfer carries additional risk to the patient whether performed between hospitals or within the same hospital.
For transfer to occur safely this procedure should be used when transferring any critically ill infant or child from another area in the hospital (such as the emergency department, general or specialty paediatric ward) to the PICU.

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Procedure method

  1. Documentation and communication
    • PICU consultant has accepted patient for admission to PICU
    • PICU nurse in charge has confirmed bed available
    • Referring consultant has spoken to PICU consultant (on phone or in person)
    • Parents updated on child’s condition and need for transfer
    • Copies or originals of all relevant notes, investigations and drug charts
    • Highlight / document any social concerns
    • Highlight / document any infection control issues (including COVID status and need for PPE)
  2. Patient preparation
    • Endotracheal tube (ETT) secured (preferably Melbourne strapping)
    • Consider confirming ETT position on CXR (ideally at T2) if patient
    • Recent blood gas with blood sugar is intubated
    • Gastric tube in situ
    • Cardiovascular status improving or stable
    • Minimum 2 points of IV access ideal but not essential
    • Maintenance fluids for infants or following treatment of hypoglycaemia
    • AVPU and pupils monitored and recorded
    • Adequate sedation, analgesia and muscle relaxation for intubated patients
    • Consider whether CT scan needed before admission to PICU
    • At least one patient identification label in place
    • Take steps to ensure patient temperature control and dignity / privacy
  3. Equipment
    • Minimum monitoring for intubated patient - etCO2, SpO2, ECG, BP
    • Ambu-bag
    • Portable suction, Yankauer catheter and suction catheters
    • Consider whether portable ventilator or hand bag with Ayer’s T-piece
    • Adequate oxygen supplies (at least one full E cylinder or two CD cylinders)
    • Airway equipment (facemask, Guedel, laryngoscope, spare ET tubes +/- introducer)
    • Emergency drugs
    • ED paediatric transfer bag or PICU transfer bag
  4. Personnel and role allocation
    • Recommended using porter (will help move equipment, radio for communications if problem en route, and will return equipment after transfer)
    • Minimum of one adequately skilled nurse/ODP and one doctor/ANP to accompany patient on transfer
    • Ensure clear role allocation including team leader
    • Consider pre-brief if risk of deterioration en route
  5. On arrival to PICU
    • Stabilise on PICU ventilator (if intubated)
    • Transfer any infusions over to bedspace
    • Structured team handover (eg. SBAR) at bedspace to receiving PICU doctor and nurse - whole team should remain until information handover is completed
    • Update PICU consultant of any change in condition
  6. Following transfer
    • All kit checked, restocked and returned
    • Offer “Time Out” / debrief to team members if needed


Record: 4637
Clinical condition:

Critically ill infants and children requiring emergency admission to PICU

Target patient group: Critically ill infants and children requiring emergency admission to PICU
Target professional group(s): Secondary Care Doctors
Secondary Care Nurses
Adapted from:

Evidence base

  1. Network Guidelines. Yorkshire & Humber Paediatric Critical Care Operational Delivery Network 2018.
  2. Advanced Paediatric Life Support: A Practical Approach to Emergencies. Sixth Edition, Advanced Life Support Group 2016.

Approved By

Leeds Children’s Hospital Clinical Governance Group

Document history

LHP version 1.0

Related information

Not supplied

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