Failed Emergency Department disposition to the ward of patients with thoracic injury

Injury. 2008 May;39(5):586-91. doi: 10.1016/j.injury.2007.10.021. Epub 2008 Mar 11.


Aims: To characterise patients who were admitted to the ward following Emergency Department (ED) management for thoracic injury yet went on to require Intensive Care Unit (ICU) admission. To identify risk factors for failed ward management.

Methods: All patients admitted to the ward following chest trauma from 2002 to 2006 were identified from the Alfred Hospital trauma database. Patients who went on to require ICU admission were compared to those admitted to and discharged from the ward without requiring ICU. Possible predictors of ICU admission were analysed.

Results: There were 764 patients during the study period who were admitted to the ward following chest trauma. Of these, 70 patients went on to require Intensive Care admission. Patients requiring ICU admission spent a significantly longer time in hospital and required significantly more rehabilitation. Multivariate analysis using stepwise logistic regression confirmed intercostal catheter (ICC) insertion and higher injury severity scores as significant independent variables associated with ICU admission. Associated abdominal injury, along with multiple rib fractures and flail were also predictive of failed ward management.

Conclusion: This study demonstrated that intercostal catheter insertion (tube thoracostomy) was an independent risk factor for deterioration following admission along with multiple rib fractures and certain associated injuries. This should be considered when admitting patients to the ward.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Decision Making
  • Emergency Service, Hospital / standards
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Injury Severity Score
  • Intensive Care Units*
  • Length of Stay
  • Male
  • Medical Errors*
  • Middle Aged
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Thoracic Injuries / therapy*
  • Triage / standards*