Is paramedic judgement useful in prehospital trauma triage?

Injury. 2005 Nov;36(11):1298-305. doi: 10.1016/j.injury.2005.07.010.


Precise prehospital trauma triage criteria are critical for ensuring patients with severe injuries are transported to trauma centres. Most prehospital trauma triage criteria adopt a combination of physiological, anatomic and mechanism of injury components, but this approach still fails to identify a number of patients with severe injuries and often burdens trauma centres with patients suffering minor injuries. Paramedic judgement has been identified as an alternative method for the triage of trauma patients. This study critically reviewed the literature regarding the ability of paramedics to predict injury severity, and found there is no clear evidence supporting paramedic judgement as an accurate triage method. However, the studies were limited due to significant data losses, variable definitions of major trauma, differences across EMS and trauma care systems, variable paramedic experience levels and incomparable methods of data collection. The role of paramedic judgement in identifying patients with severe blunt anatomic injuries requires further investigation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Allied Health Personnel / education
  • Allied Health Personnel / psychology*
  • Allied Health Personnel / standards
  • Clinical Competence
  • Critical Care
  • Humans
  • Injury Severity Score
  • Judgment
  • Triage / methods*
  • Wounds and Injuries / mortality
  • Wounds and Injuries / therapy*