Accuracy of pre-hospital trauma notification calls

Am J Emerg Med. 2019 Apr;37(4):620-626. doi: 10.1016/j.ajem.2018.06.058. Epub 2018 Jun 27.


Study objective: The aim of this study is to determine the accuracy of pre-hospital trauma notifications and the effects of inaccurate information on trauma triage.

Methods: This study was conducted at a level-1 trauma center over a two-year period. Data was collected from pre-notification forms on trauma activations that arrived to the emergency department via ambulance. Trauma activations with pre-notification were compared to those without notification and pre-notification forms were assessed for accuracy and completeness.

Results: A total of 2186 trauma activations were included in the study, 1572 (71.9%) had pre-notifications, 614 (28.1%) did not and were initially under-triaged. Pre-notification forms were completed for 1505 (95.7%) patients, of which EMS provided incomplete/inaccurate information for 1204 (80%) patients and complete/accurate information for 301 (20%) patients. Missing GCS/AVPU score (1099, 91.3%), wrong age (357, 29.6%), and missing vitals (303, 25.2%) were the main problems. Missing/wrong information resulted in trauma tier over-activation in 25 (2.1%) patients and under-activation in 20 (1.7%) patients. Under-triaged patients were predominantly male (18, 90%), sustained a fall (9, 45%), transported by BLS EMS teams (12, 60%), and arrived on a weekday (13, 65%) during the time period of 11 pm-7 am (9, 45%). A total of 13 (65%) required emergent intubation, 2 (10%) required massive transfusion activation, 7 (35%) were admitted to ICU, 3 (15%) were admitted directly to the OR, and 1 (15%) died.

Conclusion: EMS crews frequently provide inaccurate pre-hospital information or do not provide any pre-hospital notification at all, which results in over/under triage of trauma patients.

Keywords: EMS; Emergency medical services; Pre-hospital communication; Pre-hospital notification; Trauma activation; Trauma notification; Trauma triage.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Ambulances
  • Emergency Medical Services / standards*
  • Emergency Medical Services / statistics & numerical data
  • Emergency Service, Hospital
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prospective Studies
  • Trauma Centers
  • Triage / standards*
  • Triage / statistics & numerical data
  • Wounds and Injuries / therapy*
  • Young Adult