Evaluation of a university hospital trauma team activation protocol
Background: Admission with a multidisciplinary trauma team may be vital for the severely injured patient, as this facilitates rapid diagnosis and treatment. On the other hand, patients with minor injuries do not need the trauma team for adequate care. Correct triage is important for optimal resource utilization. The aim of the study was to evaluate our criteria for activating the trauma team, and identify suboptimal criteria that might be changed in the interest of precision. The study is an observational, retrospective cohort-study. All patients admitted with the trauma team (n = 382), all severely injured (Injury Severity Score (ISS) >15) (n = 161), and all undergoing an emergency procedure aimed at counteracting compromised airways, respiration or circulation at our hospital (n = 142) during 2006-2007 were included. Data were recorded from the admission records and the electronic patient records. The trauma team activation protocol was evaluated against the occurrence of severe injury and the occurrence of emergency procedures. A total of 441 patients were included. The overtriage was 71% and undertriage 32% when evaluating against ISS >15 as the standard of reference. When occurrence of emergency procedures was held as the standard of standard of reference, the over- and undertriage was 71% and 21%, respectively. Mechanism of injury-criteria for trauma team activation contributed the most to overtriage. The emergency procedures performed were mostly endotracheal intubation and external fixation of fractures. Less than 3% needed haemostatic laparotomy or thoracotomy. Approximately 2/3 of the overtriage represented isolated head or cervical spine injuries, and/or interhospital transfers. The over- and undertriage of our protocol are both too high. To decrease overtriage we suggest omissions and modifications of some of the criteria. To decrease undertriage, transferred patients and patients with head injuries should be more thoroughly assessed against the trauma team activation criteria.
CitationScandinavian Journal of Trauma, Resuscitation and Emergency Medicine (2011) 19:18
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