Objective: To evaluate the association between trauma team activation according to well-established protocols and patient survival.
Methods: Single centre, registry study of data collected prospectively from trauma patients (who were treated in a trauma resuscitation room, who died or who were admitted to ICU) of a tertiary referral trauma centre Emergency Department (ED) in Hong Kong. A 10-point protocol was used to activate rapid trauma team response to the ED. The main outcome measures were mortality, need for ICU care, or operation within 6h of injury.
Results: Between 1 January 2001 and 31 December 2005, 2539 consecutive trauma patients were included in our trauma registry, of which 674 patients (mean age 43 years, S.D. 22; 71% male; 94% blunt trauma) met trauma call criteria. Four hundred and eighty two (72%) correctly triggered a trauma call, and 192 (28%) were not called ('undercall'). Patients were less likely to have a trauma call despite meeting criteria if they were aged over 64 years, had sustained a fall, had a respiratory rate <10 or >29 per minute, a systolic blood pressure between 60 and 89 mm Hg, or a GCS of 9-13. In a sub-group of moderately poor probability of survival (probability of survival, P(s), 0.5-0.75), the odds ratio for mortality in the undercall group compared with the trauma call group was 7.6 (95% CI, 1.1-33.0).
Conclusions: In our institution, undercalls account for 28% of patients who meet trauma call criteria and in patients with moderately poor probability of survival undercall is associated with decreased survival. Although trauma team activation does not guarantee better survival, better compliance with trauma team activation protocols optimises processes of care and may translate into improved survival.