Healthcare System of Transfer

The role of the Emergency Department is to diagnose and treat acute and urgent illnesses and injuries as well as stabilize the patient. In any emergency room, patients may need to be transferred from one hospital to another or even to another part of a hospital if a specialist is needed.

Emergency Medical Service (EMS) personnel will transport you, or hospitals will transfer you to facilities where you will get the specialized care you need. For example, if you or a loved one needed stitches or suffered a simple fracture that does not require surgery, follow-up with your primary care provider may be all that is required. Other situations, such as if your child requires surgery or needs specialized care, he or she would be transferred or taken to Seattle Children’s Hospital if EMS or the doctor believes it is appropriate.

Local Integrated Health delivery systems or “Coordination of Care” is a concept that has been utilized by Harborview Medical Center (UW Medicine) and Seattle Children’s Hospital for many years. Fire Department personnel around King County have protocols in place to transport or transfer victims of serious burns and/or head trauma directly to Harborview. Similarly, children with serious injuries and/or sudden onset sickness symptoms are generally transported directly to or transferred to Seattle Children’s Hospital. Hospitals around the Puget Sound area have followed that protocol for many years. King County Medic One System and Emergency Medical Service (EMS) are well known around the country for high standards of training and education. This system integrates citizen participation, Enhanced 911, Basic Life Support (BLS), Advanced Life Support (ALS) into the overall EMS system which is a great model of “Coordination of Care,” or Integrated Healthcare delivery system.

Many small hospitals serve as the “entry point” for larger, regional healthcare delivery systems. By the same token, Critical Access hospitals with Swing Beds, serve as an “exit point” for larger healthcare systems following surgery to help patients recover the same level of independence they enjoyed prior to injury or illness.