This study was designed to determine the incidence rate and risk factors of missed injuries in major trauma patients in the emergency department (ED). Hospital records of all 976 trauma patients visiting the ED and admitted to intensive care units (ICUs) of a medical center in Taiwan from 2006 to 2007 were reviewed. Missed injuries were defined as those not identified in the ED but recognized later in the ICUs. Clinically significant injuries were those with an Abbreviated Injury Scale of ≥ 2. In the 2-year period, there were 133 missed injuries in 118 patients in the ED, for a prevalence of 12.1%; 87 injuries were clinically significant in 78 patients, for a prevalence of 8.0%. The estimated incidence rate per 100 person-hours was 3.2 for missed injuries and 2.1 for clinically significant missed injuries. The most commonly involved body region of missed injuries was the head/neck, followed by the chest and extremities. Results of a Cox regression analysis showed that a younger age, more-severe injury, polytrauma, and the absence of soft-tissue injuries were significantly associated with missed injuries, while younger ages, more-severe injuries, and the presence of chest and pelvic injuries were also significantly associated with clinically significant missed injuries. In conclusion, a considerable number of injuries, particularly to the head/neck, may be undetected in the ED, while young people and patients with certain injury patterns such as severity levels, polytrauma, and the presence of a chest or pelvic injury are more likely to have missed injuries and/or clinically significant missed injuries.
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