A consensus-based criterion standard definition for pediatric patients who needed the highest-level trauma team activation

J Trauma Acute Care Surg. 2015 Mar;78(3):634-8. doi: 10.1097/TA.0000000000000543.


Background: Verbal prehospital reports on an injured patient’s condition are typically used by trauma centers to determine if a trauma team should be present in the emergency department prior to patient arrival (i.e., trauma team activation). Efficacy studies of trauma team activation protocols cannot be conducted without a criterion standard definition for which pediatric patients need a trauma team activation.

Objective: To develop a consensus-based criterion standard definition for pediatric patients who needed the highest-level trauma team activation.

Methods: Ten local and national experts in emergency medicine, emergency medical services, and trauma were recruited to participate in a Modified Delphi survey process. The initial survey was populated based on outcomes that had been used in previously published literature on trauma team activation. The criterion standard definition for trauma team activation was refined iteratively based on survey responses until at least 80% agreement was achieved for each criterion.

Results: After five voting rounds a consensus-based definition for pediatric trauma team activation was developed. Twelve criteria were identified along with a corresponding time interval in which each criterion had to occur. The criteria include receiving specific surgery types, interventional radiology, advanced airway management, thoracostomy, blood products, spinal injury, emergency cesarean section, vasopressors, burr hole or other procedure to relieve intracranial pressure, pericardiocentesis, thoracotomy, and death in the emergency department. All expert panel members voted in all 5 voting rounds, except 1 member missed rounds 1 and 2. Each criterion had greater than 80% agreement from the panel.

Conclusion: A criterion standard definition for the highest-level pediatric trauma team activation was developed. This criterion standard definition will advance trauma research by allowing investigators to determine the accuracy and effectiveness of highest-level pediatric trauma team activation protocols.

Level of Evidence/Study type: Qualitative

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Consensus*
  • Delphi Technique
  • Emergency Medical Services / standards*
  • Humans
  • Injury Severity Score
  • Patient Care Team / standards*
  • Pediatrics / standards*
  • Quality Indicators, Health Care
  • Trauma Centers / standards*
  • Traumatology / standards*
  • United States
  • Wounds and Injuries / therapy*