JOURNAL ARTICLE

Comorbidity-polypharmacy score: a novel adjunct in post-emergency department trauma triage

Carla F Justiniano, David C Evans, Charles H Cook, Daniel S Eiferman, Anthony T Gerlach, Paul R Beery, David E Lindsey, Gary E A Saum, Claire V Murphy, Sidney F Miller, Thomas J Papadimos, Steven M Steinberg, Stanislaw P A Stawicki
Journal of Surgical Research 2013 May 1, 181 (1): 16-9
22683074

OBJECTIVE: Post-emergency department triage of older trauma patients continues to be challenging, as morbidity and mortality for any given level of injury severity tend to increase with age. The comorbidity-polypharmacy score (CPS) combines the number of pre-injury medications with the number of comorbidities to estimate the severity of comorbid conditions. This retrospective study examines the relationship between CPS and triage accuracy for older (≥45y) patients admitted for traumatic injury.

METHODS: Patients aged 45y and older presenting to level 1 trauma center from 2005 to 2008 were included. Basic data included patient demographics, injury severity score, morbidity and mortality, and functional outcome measures. CPS was calculated by adding total numbers of comorbid conditions and pre-injury medications. Patients were divided into three triage groups: undertriage (UT), appropriate triage (AT), and overtriage (OT). UT criteria included initial admission to the floor or step-down unit followed by an unplanned transfer to intensive care unit (ICU) within 24h of admission. OT was defined as initial ICU admission for <1d without stated need for ICU level of care (i.e., lack of evidence for tracheal intubation or mechanical ventilation, injury-related hemorrhage, or other traditional ICU indications, such as intracranial bleeding). All other patients were presumed to be correctly triaged. The three triage groups were then analyzed looking for contributors to mistriage.

RESULTS: Charts for 711 patients were evaluated (mean age, 63.5y; 55.7% male; mean ISS, 9.02). Of those, 11 (1.55%) met criteria for UT and 14 (1.97%) for OT. The remaining 686 patients had no evidence of mistriage. The three groups were similar in terms of injury severity and GCS. The groups were significantly different with respect to CPS, with UT CPSs (14.9±6.80) being nearly three times higher than OT CPSs (5.14±3.48). There were more similarities between AT and OT groups, with the UT group being characterized by greater number of complications and lower functional outcomes at discharge (all, P<0.05). The UT group had significantly higher mortality (27%) than the AT and OT groups (6% and 0%, respectively).

CONCLUSIONS: In the era of medication reconciliation, CPS is easy to obtain and calculate in patients who are not critically injured. This study suggests that CPS may be a promising adjunct in identifying older trauma patients who are more likely to be undertriaged. The significance of our findings is especially important when considering that injury severity in the UT group was similar to that in the other groups. Further evaluation of CPS as a triage tool in acute trauma is warranted.

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