The US Air Force transports critically ill patients from all over the world, with transport times commonly ranging from 6 to 11 hours. Few outcome measures have been tracked for these patients. Traditional methods to prevent pressure injuries in civilian hospitals are often not feasible in the military transport environment.


The incidence rate and risk factors are described of en route–related pressure injuries for patients overseen by the Critical Care Air Transport Team.


This retrospective, case-control, medical records review investigated risk factors for pressure injury in patients who developed a pressure injury after their transport flight compared with those with no documented pressure injuries.


The pressure injury rate was 4.9%. Between 2008 and 2012, 141 patients in whom pressure injuries developed and who had received care by the team were matched with 141 patients cared for by the team but did not have pressure injury. According to regression analysis, body mass index and 2 or more Critical Care Air Transport Team transports per patient were associated with pressure injury development.


Although the pressure injury rate of 4.9% in this cohort of patients is consistent with that reported by civilian critical care units, the rate must be interpreted with caution, because civilian study data frequently represent the entire intensive care unit length of stay. Targeted interventions for patients with increased body mass index and 2 or more critical care air transports per patient may help decrease the development of pressure injury in these patients.

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