Objective: To apply a triage tool to patients on their arrival in the emergency department and determine the efficacy and safety of a two-tier trauma response.
Design: Descriptive prospective audit.
Setting: Principal urban referral hospital that provides a major trauma service.
Materials and methods: The triage tool designated a major trauma or stable trauma response. A major trauma designation mobilised a multidisciplinary team and a stable trauma designation an expedited evaluation by emergency department staff. Chi-square test and Mann-Whitney U test were used to compare major and stable trauma designations. Triage accuracy was evaluated using outcome variables.
Main results: 78% of 58 major trauma responses and 30% of 180 stable trauma responses were admitted. The median injury severity score (and interquartile range) of admitted patients was 9.0 (5.0-19.5) for major responses and 5.0 (2.0-9.0) for stable responses. The triage tool had a sensitivity of 65%, specificity of 87%, accuracy (appropriate triage rate) of 82%, undertriage rate of 8% and overtriage rate of 10%.
Conclusion: The triage tool adequately distinguished between patients with and without major trauma. Undertriaged patients had timely and appropriate referral for definitive surgical care and had no adverse outcomes.