Trauma team activation: simplified criteria safely reduces overtriage

Am J Surg. 2007 May;193(5):630-4; discussion 634-5. doi: 10.1016/j.amjsurg.2007.01.017.


Background: Our current trauma triage system uses patient and scene variables within a 3-tiered trauma response system. Our purpose was to evaluate the accuracy of the current system and to identify the most reliable variables for trauma triage.

Methods: This was a retrospective review at a level II trauma center. Multivariate logistic regression was used to identify independent predictors of the need for any urgent emergency department procedure or operative intervention. The current triage system was analyzed and compared with a proposed simplified system.

Results: There were 1495 consecutive trauma admissions identified, the majority (88%) were blunt mechanism. Urgent emergency department interventions were required in 11%, and 4% required emergent surgery. Logistic regression demonstrated that prehospital Glasgow Coma Score <14 (odds ratio [OR] 9.7), hypotension (OR 3.3), altered respiratory effort (OR 4.6), and penetrating truncal injury (OR 10.8) independently predicted the need for urgent intervention (all P < .01). The current system undertriaged only 1% but overtriaged 51% of patients. A simplified triage system using these 4 variables significantly decreased overtriage and reliably identified patients with severe injury.

Conclusions: A simplified triage system using only highly predictive variables can safely decrease the high rate of overtriage of trauma patients.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Emergency Treatment
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Injury Severity Score
  • Male
  • Patient Care Team
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Triage / methods*
  • Triage / statistics & numerical data
  • Wounds and Injuries* / therapy