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Consensus reached on transfer of acute aortic dissection patients to specialist centres

Posted on 6th December 2023

A multi-disciplinary team of clinical experts working with national patient charity Aortic Dissection Awareness UK & Ireland has published a consensus statement on the inter-hospital transfer of patients with acute aortic syndrome. 

Consensus reached on transfer of acute aortic dissection patients to specialist centres

The national patient charity and the patient-led THINK AORTA campaign have welcomed the new consensus guidance, which comes four years after a national investigation and report by the Government's Health Services Safety Investigation Body into the death of an Aortic Dissection patient during ambulance transfer, and almost two years since the publication of NHS England's Acute Aortic Dissection Toolkit.

The consensus statement developed by the TRAVERSING study, led by vascular surgeons Prof. Rob Hinchliffe and Miss Alex Staniszewska from the University of Bristol Medical School, is published this week in the Emergency Medicine Journal. It sets out clearly the optimum timelines, clinical and logistical recommendations to expedite safe transfer of patients with a diagnosis of acute aortic syndrome (AAS) to specialist centres for treatment.

The authors say "The TRAVERSING Delphi study is the first national interdisciplinary consensus study, which clarifies the principles of transfer of patients with AAS to specialist high-volume aortic centres in the United Kingdom. Implementation of the consensus statement in routine clinical practice is likely to standardise and optimise the quality of care provided to patients with acute aortic pathologies on a national level."

The national patient charity was fully involved in the TRAVERSING Study from the outset. The charity's Chair, Mr. Gareth Owens (an Aortic Dissection survivor with personal experience of inter-hospital transfer) and Medical Advisors, Dr. Emma Redfern (Emergency Medicine) and Mr. Geoff Tsang (Cardiac Surgery) are co-authors of the published paper.

Mr. Owens said "The acute Aortic Dissection patient pathway has received significant expert attention since we started highlighting it as a national patient safety issue in 2018 with the THINK AORTA campaign. Publication of the TRAVERSING Study is an important contribution. It sets out clearly, for the first time, the principles of safe transfer of these patients to specialist centres where they will receive optimum treatment. The national patient charity will now invite the relevant Royal Colleges and professional societies, the Department of Health and NHS England to disseminate the consensus statement and ensure that it is adopted nationally in clinical practice. By doing so, we expect that the TRAVERSING Study will improve patient care and outcomes and save lives in acute Aortic Dissection.