Impact of advanced trauma life support training on early trauma management

Am J Surg. 1988 May;155(5):704-7. doi: 10.1016/s0002-9610(88)80150-8.


To assess the impact of ATLS education on early trauma management, charts of patients with an ISS of 14 or greater were reviewed for a 1 year period before and after ATLS training of emergency room trauma care providers. There were 50 patients in the before ATLS group, with a mean age of 41.6 years and an ISS of 29.8, and 71 patients in the after ATLS group, with a mean age of 40.6 years and an ISS of 30.6. Of those parameters evaluated as measures of early assessment, only rectal examination was found to be performed significantly more frequently after ATLS training. The mortality rates of 26 percent before ATLS and 20 percent after ATLS were not significantly different. In evaluating assessment and management parameters in the patients who died, no airway management errors were found in the after ATLS group; however, there were more missed injuries in this group. We have concluded that ATLS instruction failed to produce a quantifiable improvement in patient assessment or outcome. Further studies directed at assessing the retention rate for ATLS education and determining the impact on clinical performance are needed.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Diagnostic Errors
  • Humans
  • Inservice Training*
  • Life Support Care*
  • Outcome and Process Assessment, Health Care
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Traumatology / education*
  • Wounds and Injuries / diagnosis
  • Wounds and Injuries / mortality
  • Wounds and Injuries / therapy*