Lack of communication between hospitals and insufficient methods to locate spare beds make the transfer process difficult. Furthermore, the available information on spare beds can be outdated, inaccurate or simply hard to find. These problems can result in critically ill patients being transferred large distances at great risk to their health. One tragic example of these problems occurred in the UK, where a road traffic accident victim died while on a journey of over 200 miles. There may well have been beds available at nearby hospitals but staff had no means of knowing where they were.
A new website has been developed called ICUnet (http://www.icubeds.info) which aims to help doctors and nurses easily find the nearest intensive care beds for their patients. Using a password, hospitals submit the bed state of their ICU to the website, which is constantly updated. Other hospital units can then view a comprehensive, up-to-date list of nearby bed space. This system, if successfully implemented, could prevent many critically ill patients dying during transfers.