OBJECTIVES: The COVID-19 pandemic stressed hospital operations, requiring rapid innovations to address rise in demand and specialized COVID-19 services while maintaining access to hospital-based care and facilitating expertise. We aimed to describe a novel hospital system approach to managing the COVID-19 pandemic, including multihospital coordination capability and transfer of COVID-19 patients to a single, dedicated hospital.

METHODS: We included patients who tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 by polymerase chain reaction admitted to a 12-hospital network including a dedicated COVID-19 hospital. Our primary outcome was adherence to local guidelines, including admission risk stratification, anticoagulation, and dexamethasone treatment assessed by differences-in-differences analysis after guideline dissemination. We evaluated outcomes and health care worker satisfaction. Finally, we assessed barriers to safe transfer including transfer across different electronic health record systems.

RESULTS: During the study, the system admitted a total of 1209 patients. Of these, 56.3% underwent transfer, supported by a physician-led System Operations Center. Patients who were transferred were older (P = 0.001) and had similar risk-adjusted mortality rates. Guideline adherence after dissemination was higher among patients who underwent transfer: admission risk stratification (P < 0.001), anticoagulation (P < 0.001), and dexamethasone administration (P = 0.003). Transfer across electronic health record systems was a perceived barrier to safety and reduced quality. Providers positively viewed our transfer approach.

CONCLUSIONS: With standardized communication, interhospital transfers can be a safe and effective method of cohorting COVID-19 patients, are well received by health care providers, and have the potential to improve care quality.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)287-294
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Patient Safety
Issue number4
Early online dateSep 23 2021
StatePublished - Sep 23 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
Copyright © 2021 Wolters Kluwer Health, Inc. All rights reserved.

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.


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