Trauma team activation and the impact on mortality

Robert A Cherry, Tonya S King, Daniel E Carney, Patrick Bryant, Robert N Cooney
Journal of Trauma 2007, 63 (2): 326-30

BACKGROUND: Trauma centers use injury mechanism, physiology, and anatomic criteria to determine the extent of trauma team activation (TTA). We examined whether physiologic variables in our three-tier TTA system stratified patients appropriately by injury severity and mortality.

METHODS: The trauma registry at our Level I trauma center was retrospectively reviewed for full (level 1 or L1), partial (level 2 or L2), and limited (level 3) adult TTA. Data were collected on age, injury severity score (ISS), hospital length of stay, systolic blood pressure (SBP), heart rate, respiratory rate (RR), Glasgow coma score (GCS), and intubation status. Penetrating injuries, traumatic arrests, and interfacility transfers were excluded. Data are median (25%75%). Statistical analysis included hazard ratios (HzR), Kruskal-Wallis, chi, and survival analyses. The p value overall was <0.05, and pair wise was <0.05 versus L1.

RESULTS: There were 494 adult TTAs for blunt injury from the scene out of 1,969 admissions. Variables associated with mortality (HzR; 95% confidence interval) by univariate analysis include SBP <90 (9.4; 4.2, 21.2), RR >29 or <10 (17.8; 4.8, 66.0), intubation status (4.5; 2.3, 8.9), and GCS <8 (9.7; 4.8, 19.9). When combined in a multivariate model to evaluate multiple predictors simultaneously, SBP <90 and GCS <8 appear to be the strongest predictors of mortality (RR and intubation were not significant in the presence of SBP and GCS). The three-tier system identified patients with increased ISS and early (< or =4 weeks) mortality risk. There was a statistically significant difference in survival between L1 and L2 at 38 days, but not for >38 days (p = 0.739).

CONCLUSIONS: TTA criteria selected patients with greater ISS and early mortality, but impact on long-term survival may not be appreciated. Full TTA criteria for blunt injury may be limited to GCS <8, SBP <90, RR >29 or <10, and intubation status.

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