Is regionalization of trauma care using telemedicine feasible and desirable?

Am J Surg. 2000 Dec;180(6):535-9. doi: 10.1016/s0002-9610(00)00516-x.


Background: The judgement and skill of an experienced surgeon are crucial ingredients during trauma resuscitation, so that errors of omission, commission, and misprioritization can be avoided. Trauma represents a potential paradigm application for telemedicine owing to its ubiquitous and urgent nature and the limited availability of specialized care.

Methods: A two-phase project was performed, using an Advanced Trauma Life Support (ATLS)-based evaluation tool. In phase I, we reviewed 24 videotaped trauma resuscitations on a single pass. Clinical data thus observed were compared with the clinical chart for agreement. In phase II, we performed real time, remote, initial evaluations of 17 trauma victims.

Results: In phase I, 19 of 44 variables had agreement rates >90%, 10 had agreement rates between 70% and 90%. In phase II, agreement rates were similar to those in phase I, with improved accuracy in documenting initial and secondary vital signs and the secondary physical examination.

Conclusion: Remote evaluation of trauma victims is feasible. Accurate clinical data can be recorded, tasks delegated, and therapeutic measures advised using telemedicine. This can make expert trauma care available to hospitals without advanced trauma systems and potentially reduce cost, prevent unnecessary transfers, and promote early transfer when indicated.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study

MeSH terms

  • Feasibility Studies
  • Hospitals, General / standards
  • Humans
  • Quality Assurance, Health Care
  • Regional Medical Programs / organization & administration*
  • Regional Medical Programs / standards
  • Resuscitation / standards
  • Telemedicine*
  • Texas
  • Trauma Centers / organization & administration*
  • Trauma Centers / standards
  • Wounds and Injuries / diagnosis*