Development of statewide geriatric patients trauma triage criteria

Prehosp Disaster Med. 2011 Jun;26(3):170-9. doi: 10.1017/S1049023X11006315.


Introduction: The geriatric population is unique in the type of traumatic injuries sustained, physiological responses to those injuries, and an overall higher mortality when compared to younger adults. No published, evidence-based, geriatric-specific field destination criteria exist as part of a statewide trauma system. The Trauma Committee of the Ohio Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Board sought to develop specific criteria for geriatric trauma victims.

Methods: A literature search was conducted for all relevant literature to determine potential, geriatric-specific, field-destination criteria. Data from the Ohio Trauma Registry were used to compare elderly patients, defined as age >70 years, to all patients between the ages of 16 to 69 years with regards to mortality risk in the following areas: (1) Glasgow Coma Scale (GCS) score; (2) systolic blood pressure (SBP); (3) falls associated with head, chest, abdominal or spinal injury; (4) mechanism of injury; (5) involvement of more than one body system as defined in the Barell matrix; and (6) co-morbidities and motor vehicle collision with one or more long bone fracture. For GCS score and SBP, those cut-off points with equal or greater risk of mortality as compared to current values were chosen as proposed triage criteria. For other measures, any criterion demonstrating a statistically significant increase in mortality risk was included in the proposed criteria.

Results: The following criteria were identified as geriatric-specific criteria: (1) GCS score <14 in the presence of known or suspected traumatic brain trauma; (2) SBP <100 mmHg; (3) fall from any height with evidence of traumatic brain injury: (4) multiple body-system injuries; (5) struck by a moving vehicle; and (6) the presence of any proximal long bone fracture following motor vehicle trauma. In addition, these data suggested that elderly patients with specific co-morbidities be given strong consideration for evaluation in a trauma center.

Conclusions: The state of Ohio is the first state to develop evidence-based geriatric-specific field-destination criteria using data from its state-mandated trauma registry. Further analysis of these criteria will help determine their effects on over-triage and under-triage of geriatric victims of traumatic injuries and the impact on the overall mortality in the elderly.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Comorbidity
  • Emergency Medical Services / organization & administration*
  • Emergency Medical Services / standards
  • Evidence-Based Emergency Medicine
  • Geriatric Assessment / methods*
  • Glasgow Coma Scale
  • Humans
  • Ohio
  • Registries
  • Risk Assessment
  • Triage / standards*
  • Wounds and Injuries / diagnosis*
  • Wounds and Injuries / mortality