A Swiss study examined the on site triage decision making of pre-hospital emergency physicians. Dispatch of the physicians was coordinated by trained nurses or paramedics.
OBJECTIVE: Accurate identification of major trauma patients in the prehospital setting positively affects survival and resource utilization. Triage algorithms using predictive criteria of injury severity have been identified in paramedic-based prehospital systems. Our rescue system is based on prehospital paramedics and emergency physicians. The aim of this study was to evaluate the accuracy of the prehospital triage performed by physicians and to identify the predictive factors leading to errors of triage.
METHODS: Retrospective study of trauma patients triaged by physicians. Prehospital triage was analyzed using criteria defining major trauma victims (MTVs, Injury Severity Score >15, admission to ICU, need for immediate surgery and death within 48 h). Adequate triage was defined as MTVs oriented to the trauma centre or non-MTV (NMTV) oriented to regional hospitals.
RESULTS: One thousand six hundred and eighti-five patients (blunt trauma 96%) were included (558 MTV and 1127 NMTV). Triage was adequate in 1455 patients (86.4%). Overtriage occurred in 171 cases (10.1%) and undertriage in 59 cases (3.5%). Sensitivity and specificity was 90 and 85%, respectively, whereas positive predictive value and negative predictive value were 75 and 94%, respectively. Using logistic regression analysis, significant (P<0.05) predictors of undertriage were head or thorax injuries (odds ratio >2.5). Predictors of overtriage were paediatric age group, pedestrian or 2 wheel-vehicle road traffic accidents (odds ratio >2.0).
CONCLUSION: Physicians using clinical judgement provide effective prehospital triage of trauma patients. Only a few factors predicting errors in triage process were identified in this study.
Accuracy of prehospital triage of trauma patients by emergency physicians: a retrospective study in western Switzerland
Eur J Emerg Med. 2011 Apr;18(2):86-93
A trauma database was analysed to see if patients who were transported from the field to a non-trauma centre (NTC) and subsequently sent on to a trauma centre (TC) for definitive care fared worse than similar patients who were transferred directly to the TC.
There were 1,112 patients of whom 318 (29%) were initially triaged to a NTC. After adjusting for confounders, this was associated with an increase in prehospital crystalloids (4.2 L vs. 1.4 L, p < 0.05) and a 12-fold increase in blood transfusions (60% vs. 5%, p < 0.001). Age, injury severity score, Acute Physiology and Chronic Health Evaluation II score, and time from injury to TC arrival were independent predictors of mortality. The odds of death were 3.8 times greater (95% CI, 1.6–9.0) when patients were initially triaged to a nontrauma facility.
The authors conclude: triaging severely injured patients to hospitals that are incapable of providing definitive care is associated with increased mortality. Attempts at initial stabilization at an NTC may be harmful. These findings are consistent with a need for continued expansion of regional trauma systems.
Scoop and Run to the Trauma Center or Stay and Play at the Local Hospital: Hospital Transfer’s Effect on Mortality
Journal of Trauma-Injury Infection & Critical Care September 2010;69(3):595-601
A Japanese study of over 10,000 patients demonstrated improved neurological outcome in out-of-hospital cardiac arrest patients who were taken to hospitals designated as ‘critical care medical centres’, where neurologically favorable 1-month survival was greater [6.7% versus 2.8%, P < 0.001] despite a slightly longer call-hospital arrival interval [30.6 min vs 27.2, p < 0.001]. If return of spontaneous circulation was achieved pre-hospital, there was no difference in survival. It is unclear what factors, such as more interventional cardiology or therapeutic hypothermia, made the difference in the critical care centres.
Impact of transport to critical care medical centers on outcomes after
out-of-hospital cardiac arrest
Resuscitation. 2010 May;81(5):549-54
In a study of over 7500 patients with cardiac arrest transported by EMS in the United States, transport distance was not associated with survival on logistic analysis (OR 1.00; 95% CI 0.99–1.01).
A geospatial assessment of transport distance and survival to discharge in out of
hospital cardiac arrest patients: Implications for resuscitation centers
Resuscitation. 2010 May;81(5):518-23