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Ambulance stretcher adverse events
  1. H E Wang1,
  2. M D Weaver1,
  3. B N Abo1,
  4. R Kaliappan1,
  5. R J Fairbanks2
  1. 1
    Department of Emergency Medicine, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, USA
  2. 2
    Department of Emergency Medicine, University of Rochester, Rochester, New York, USA
  1. Dr H E Wang, Department of Emergency Medicine, University of Pittsburgh, 230 McKee Place, Suite 400, Pittsburgh, PA 15213, USA; wanghe{at}


Introduction: Ambulance personnel use wheeled stretchers for moving patients in the out-of-hospital setting. The nature of adverse events and associated injuries occurring during ambulance stretcher operation was characterised.

Methods: Data from the United States Food and Drug Administration’s Manufacturer and User Facility Device Experience Database (MAUDE) were used. All adverse events involving ambulance stretchers during the years 1996–2005 were identified. The nature of the event, the method of stretcher handling, the individuals injured and the nature of the resulting injuries were identified.

Results: There were 671 reported adverse events. The most common adverse events were stretcher collapse (54%; 95% CI 50 to 57%), broken, missing or malfunctioning part (28%; 95% CI 25 to 32%) and dropped stretcher (7%; 95% CI 5 to 9%). Adverse events most commonly occurred during unloading of the stretcher from the ambulance (16%; 13 to 19%). Injuries occurred in 121 events (18%; 95% CI 15 to 21%), most often involving sprains/strains (29%), fractures (16%) and lacerations/avulsions (13%). There were three traumatic brain injuries and three deaths. Patients sustained injuries in 52 events (43%), and ambulance personnel sustained injuries in 64 events (53%). More than one individual sustained injuries in 12 events.

Conclusion: Adverse events may occur during ambulance stretcher operation and can result in significant injury to patients and ambulance personnel.

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  • Funding: HEW is supported by Clinical Scientist Development Award K08-HS013628 from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, Maryland, United States of America. RJF is supported by a research training grant from the Emergency Medicine Patient Safety Foundation (Auburn, CA) through the Society for Academic Emergency Medicine (Lansing, MI). This research was independent from the funders.

  • Competing interests: None.

  • Ethics approval: Obtained from University of Pittsburgh Institutional Review Board.

  • Patient consent: Obtained.