6 Risks Your Hospital Must Avoid When Transferring a Patient

Transferring a patient from one healthcare facility to another is a complex and delicate process. It’s also one that involves numerous risks. 

Hospitals and healthcare providers must exercise utmost care and diligence when transferring patients. This is to ensure the safety and continuity of care of the patients. 

In this article, we will discuss a few critical risks that hospitals must avoid when transferring a patient.


According to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, one of the most significant risks in patient transfers is miscommunication. In the healthcare sector, effective communication is paramount. Any breakdown in this area can have severe consequences for patients. 

When transferring a patient, information regarding their medical history, condition, medications, etc. must be accurately conveyed to the receiving facility. Failure to do so can result in incorrect treatments, medication errors, or inadequate care.

To mitigate this risk, hospitals should establish clear communication protocols for patient transfers. Utilizing electronic health records (EHRs) can help ensure that all relevant information is available to the medical team. Regular training on effective communication practices is also crucial to minimize the risk of miscommunication during patient transfers.

Inadequate Patient Assessment

Inadequate patient assessment during the transfer process is another significant risk. It is essential to thoroughly evaluate a patient’s condition before initiating the transfer. Rushing through this critical step or failing to perform a comprehensive assessment can lead to incorrect decisions, delays in treatment, and so on.

Healthcare providers must adhere to established clinical protocols for patient assessments. This includes conducting physical examinations, reviewing medical records, and consulting with the patient’s primary care team. 

Lack of Coordination

Patient transfers often involve multiple healthcare professionals, departments, and facilities. A lack of coordination among these stakeholders can lead to a host of problems. These include delayed transfers, misplaced paperwork, and even patient mix-ups. Effective coordination is vital to ensuring that the transfer process runs smoothly and that the patient’s needs are met.

Hospitals should establish clear procedures and protocols for patient transfers, including designated personnel responsible for coordinating the process. Additionally, the use of technology, such as electronic transfer orders and real-time tracking systems, can enhance coordination and reduce the risk of errors.

Transportation Safety

Patient transfers often involve the use of various transportation methods, including ambulances, helicopters, and medical transport vehicles. Accidents, equipment failures, and medical emergencies during transit can jeopardize the safety of the patient and healthcare personnel.

To mitigate transportation-related risks, hospitals should partner with reputable transportation providers and establish clear safety protocols. Clear communication between the sending and receiving facilities during transit is crucial to address any unforeseen challenges promptly.

When it comes to a patient’s long-distance medical transportation expectations, ask their guardians or caretakers to exercise caution. Such long-distance transportation services should only be availed after understanding the patient’s health status. Special attention is needed here for elderly patients so that they can travel stress-free.

According to ACC Medlink, patients should expect long-distance medical transportation services to be a bit expensive. This is mostly because of how costly the entire operation can be, from renting the medical vehicle to hiring staff for the transfer. 

Medication Errors

When a patient is moved between healthcare facilities, their medications may be changed, adjusted, or continued based on their condition and treatment plan. Failing to manage medications correctly can result in dangerous drug interactions, missed doses, or overdoses.

Hospitals and healthcare providers should have a standardized process for reconciling and verifying medications during patient transfers. This process should include a review of the patient’s current medication list. It also needs a clear plan for transferring and administering medications and a method for communication between the sending and receiving facilities.

The National Institutes of Health report that medication errors can lead the patient to experience psychological and physical pain and suffering. In some unfortunate cases, such errors might even lead to death. Hence, medication errors must be avoided at all costs during such patient transfers.

Infection Control

Infection control is a paramount concern in healthcare settings, and patient transfers can pose a risk if proper precautions are not taken. Patients being transferred may have contagious diseases. Failing to follow infection control protocols can lead to the spread of pathogens within healthcare facilities. This, in turn, can put other patients and staff at risk.

Ensuring infection control became a huge problem during the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), there was always a risk that the disease would spread while transferring the patient. 

Hospitals must strictly adhere to infection control guidelines during patient transfers. This includes maintaining proper hand hygiene, using personal protective equipment (PPE), etc.

In some cases, healthcare facilities might not be willing to receive a patient who has a contagious disease. These details must be conveyed between the healthcare facilities involved. The patient’s guardian or caretakers must also be kept in the loop as these conversations take place. 


As you can tell by now, there are a lot of risks involved in transferring a patient from one facility to another. Therefore, if you’re handling something similar, prepare yourself and your staff accordingly. Remember, one wrong move can jeopardize the health and life of an individual.

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HBC Editors
HBC Editorshttp://www.healthcarebusinessclub.com
HBC editors are a group of healthcare business professionals from diversified backgrounds. At HBC, we present the latest business news, tips, trending topics, interviews in healthcare business field, HBC editors are expanding day by day to cover most of the topics in the middle east and Africa, and other international regions.

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