Differentiation of confirmed major trauma patients and potential major trauma patients using pre-hospital trauma triage criteria

Cox, Shelley, Smith, Karen, Currell, Alex, Harriss, Linton, Barger, Bill, and Cameron, Peter (2011) Differentiation of confirmed major trauma patients and potential major trauma patients using pre-hospital trauma triage criteria. Injury, 42 (9). pp. 889-895.

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Abstract

Background

There is a paucity of literature comparing trauma patients who meet pre-hospital trauma triage guidelines ('potential major trauma') with trauma patients who are identified as 'confirmed major trauma patients' at hospital discharge. This type of epidemiological surveillance is critical to continuous performance monitoring of mature trauma care systems. The current study aimed to determine if the current trauma triage criteria resulted in under/over-triage and whether the triage criteria were being adhered to.

Methods

For a 12-month time period there were 45,332 adult (≥16 years of age) trauma patients transported by ambulance to hospitals in metropolitan Melbourne. This retrospective study analysed data from 1166 patients identified at hospital discharge as 'confirmed major trauma patients' and 16,479 patients captured by the current pre-hospital trauma triage criteria, who did not go on to meet the definition of confirmed major trauma. These patients comprise the 'potential major trauma' group. Non-major trauma patients (N = 27,687) were excluded from the study. Pre-hospital data was sourced from the Victorian Ambulance Clinical Information System (VACIS) and hospital data was sourced from the Victorian State Trauma Registry (VSTR). Statistical analyses compared the characteristics of confirmed major trauma and potential major trauma patients according to the current trauma triage criteria.

Results

The leading causes of confirmed major trauma and potential major trauma were motor vehicle collisions (30.1% vs. 19.2%) and falls (30.0% vs. 48.7%). More than 80% of confirmed major trauma and 24.4% of potential major trauma patients were directly transported to a major trauma service. Overall, similar numbers of confirmed major trauma patients and potential major trauma patients had one or more aberrant vital signs (67.0% vs. 66.4%). Specific injuries meeting triage criteria were sustained by 69.2% of confirmed major trauma patients and 51.4% of potential major trauma patients, while 11.7% of confirmed major trauma patients and 4.6% of potential major trauma patients met the combined mechanism of injury criteria.

Conclusions

While the sensitivity of the current pre-hospital trauma triage criteria is high, if paramedics strictly followed the criteria there would be significant over-triage. Triage models using different mechanistic and physiologic criteria should be evaluated.

Item ID: 40473
Item Type: Article (Refereed Research - C1)
Keywords: pre-hospital; trauma; ambulance; triage; injury; mechanism; vital signs
ISSN: 1879-0267
Funders: Transport Accident Commission
Date Deposited: 17 Sep 2015 00:13
FoR Codes: 11 MEDICAL AND HEALTH SCIENCES > 1103 Clinical Sciences > 110305 Emergency Medicine @ 40%
11 MEDICAL AND HEALTH SCIENCES > 1117 Public Health and Health Services > 111706 Epidemiology @ 40%
11 MEDICAL AND HEALTH SCIENCES > 1103 Clinical Sciences > 110310 Intensive Care @ 20%
SEO Codes: 92 HEALTH > 9204 Public Health (excl. Specific Population Health) > 920409 Injury Control @ 40%
92 HEALTH > 9202 Health and Support Services > 920208 Health Inequalities @ 30%
92 HEALTH > 9202 Health and Support Services > 920204 Evaluation of Health Outcomes @ 30%
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