A Prehospital Triage Tool for Rural Systems

 

 
 
 

Keith Wesley, MD, FACEP | | Friday, January 16, 2009


Review of:Purtill MA, Benedict K, Hernandez-Boussard T, et al: "Validation of a prehospital trauma triage tool: a 10-year perspective." Journal of Trauma 65(6):1253- 1257, 2008.

The Science

This study from Santa Cruz, Calif. is a rigorous attempt to validate a change in the way this EMS system triaged multiple trauma victims from the scene in rural areas. Their protocol was based on what they term "MAP" for mechanism, anatomy, and physiological changes found on triage. Their triage tool consisted of the following areas:

Mechanism of Injury

___High Impact

Specific High Impact Criteria

___Ejection of Patient

___Roll over

___Fatality in same vehicle

___Intrusion of MV into passenger compartment

___Extrication over 20 min

___Pedestrian hit at 20 mph or more

___Gunshot wound

___Stab Type wound

___Fall > 15 feet

___Submersion Injury (for pediatrics only)

Anatomic Injury (or Injuries)

___Significant Penetrating Injury

___Significant Blunt Injury

___Burns

Specific Burn Criteria

___>10% Body in Children < 1 year

___>15% Body in all others

___Burns to Face/Mouth/Throat

___Singed Nasal Hair

___Respiratory Distress/Cough

___Deep Burns to hands/feet/perineum

___Neuro Injury

Specific Neuro Injury

___Sensory Loss

___Motor Deficit

___Paralysis

Physiologic Criteria

____Glasgow Coma Score <11

___Inadequate Perfusion

___Respiratory Distress

___Unable to Determine Physiology (Pediatric <6)

Other Criteria

___Base Hospital Physician Judgment

___Patient "In extremis"

Prior to the study (control period), based-station medical control was contacted for approval for air medical transport of the patient to the trauma center. During the study period, there was no change in the triage tool. If patients met two or more criteria, the EMTs could summon the helicopter or transport directly to the trauma center without base station approval. If only one criterion was met, they could contact the based-station for approval to transport to the trauma center.

During the control period, there were 6,670 trauma patients. Based-station contact was made 95% of the time, and 7% of the patients were transported to the trauma center. During the study period, 8,414 trauma patients were encountered. Based-station contact was made for 39%, and 10% of the patients were transported to the trauma center.

An analysis of the patients who were transported to the trauma center revealed that 79% of the patients taken to the trauma center during the control period were determined to have multiple trauma as compared with 69% during the study period (p=N.S.). Of those patients not meeting triage criteria in the control period, 75% were later found to have multiple trauma -- compared to 69% during the study period.

This resulted in a triage tool with 93.8% sensitivity and 99.5% specificity with a marked reduction in the need for based-station contact.

The Street

This is a phenomenal study. The issue of prehospital trauma triage is one fraught with great controversy. This system is using a set of criteria that pre-dates the current criteria recently released by the American College of Surgeons (ACS), which focuses more on physiology and less on mechanism and anatomy. It hasn't been validated as this tool has been. The ACS states that an acceptable under-triage rate (one that misses the multiple trauma victim) is 5% while acceptable over-triage is 30%-50%. This system's tool resulted in an over-triage of 31%.

What was unclear was the number of patients who referred to the trauma center with only one criterion after based-station referral. An analysis of these patients would be interesting. Clearly, the elimination of based-station contact resulted in a very efficient system of rapidly moving these rural trauma victims from the scene.

No triage tool is perfect. The goal of any system is to adopt a tool that meets the resources of its region, is consistent with the science as we understand it, and doesn't over burden the trauma center with minor trauma -- all while keeping under-triage to a bare minimum and putting into place a mechanism to address any deficiencies in the system.




Connect: Have a thought or feedback about this? Add your comment now
Related Topics: Extrication and Rescue, Head and Spinal Injuries, Medical Emergencies, Operations and Protcols, Research

 
What's Your Take? Comment Now ...

Featured Careers & Jobs in EMS

 

 

Get JEMS in Your Inbox

 

Fire EMS Blogs


Blogger Browser

Today's Featured Posts

 

EMS Airway Clinic

Innovation & Progress

Follow in the footsteps of these inspirational leaders of EMS.
More >

Multimedia Thumb

Abilene Loses Helicopter Service

Native Air leaves city with only one air helicopter service.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

D.C. Fire Chief Proposes another Controversial Ambulance Plan

Staffing change will leave immediate neighborhood without fire apparatus.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

FDIC 2014 CHAT: MIKE MCEVOY AND A.J. HEIGHTMAN

Mike McEvoy and A.J. Heightman discuss some new EMS technology at FDIC 2014.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

D.C. Lieutenant in Patient Death May Go Unpunished

Family upset that officer in charge may retire without any discipline.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

Fatal, Fiery California Bus Crash

Seven students and two drivers killed in crash.
More >


Multimedia Thumb

Hands On April 2014

Check out the latest products and innovations in JEMS.
More >


Multimedia Thumb

LMA MAD Nasal™

Needle-free intranasal drug delivery.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

VividTrac offered by Vivid Medical - EMS Today 2013

VividTrac, affordable high performance video intubation device.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

Braun Ambulances' EZ Door Forward

Helps to create a safer ambulance module.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

Field Bridge Xpress ePCR on iPad, Android, Kindle Fire

Sneak peek of customizable run forms & more.
Watch It >


More Product Videos >