Background: Recently, evidence has shown that intubation in the field may not improve or may even adversely affect outcomes. Our objective was to analyze outcomes in pediatric intubated trauma patients using a large national pediatric trauma registry.
Methods: The patient population was derived from the last phase of the National Pediatric Trauma Registry, comprising admissions from 1994 through 2002. Intubated patients were identified, as was their place of intubation: in the field, at a hospital that was not a trauma center, and at a trauma center. Risk stratification was performed for mortality using logistic regression models and variables available at presentation to the emergency room. Odds ratio and variable significance were calculated from the logistic regression model. The percentage of patients discharged to home and an abnormal Functional Independence Measure at hospital discharge examined functional outcome of survivors.
Results: There were a total of 50,199 patients, 5460 (11.6%) of whom were intubated (1,930 in the field, 1,654 in the hospital, and 1,876 in a trauma center). Unadjusted mortality rates for intubated patients were as follows: field, 38.5%; hospital, 16.7%; and trauma center, 13.2% (all different, p < 0.05). The developed logistic regression model had an area under the receiver operating characteristic curve of 0.98. Compared with nonintubated patients, the odds ratio for field intubation, for non-trauma center, and for trauma center intubation was 14.4, 5.8, and 4.8, respectively (significantly different field vs. either hospital). The actual (observed) death rate was significantly higher than predicted in those intubated in the field. Stratification of injury by New Injury Severity Score or degree of head injury showed that this difference extended from mild to severe (e.g., odds ratio for New Injury Severity Score < 15 field vs. trauma center intubation, 12.3; odds ratio for none or moderate head injury, 5.1). Similar results were obtained for functional outcome in the survivors.
Conclusion: Field intubation is an independent strong negative predictor of survival or good functional outcome despite adjustment for severity of injury. Although not causal, the magnitude of these differences should lead to future controlled studies of pediatric trauma field intubations.