Objective: To evaluate anatomic, physiologic, and mechanism-of-injury prehospital triage criteria as well as the subjective criterion of provider "gut feeling."
Design: Prospective analysis.
Setting: A state without a trauma system or official trauma center designation.
Patients: Patients treated by emergency medical services personnel statewide over a 1-year period who were injured and met at least one prehospital triage criterion for treatment at a trauma center.
Main outcome measures: Outcome was analyzed for injury severity using the Injury Severity Score and mortality rates. A major trauma victim (MTV) was defined as a patient having an Injury Severity Score of 16 or greater. The yield of MTV and mortality associated with each criterion was determined.
Results: Of 5028 patients entered into the study, 3006 exhibited a singular entry criterion. Triage criteria tended to stratify into high-, intermediate-, and low-yield groups for MTV identification. Physiologic criteria were high yield and anatomic criteria were intermediate yield. Provider gut feeling alone was a low-yield criterion but served to enhance the yield of mechanism of injury criteria when the two criteria were applied in the same patient.
Conclusions: A limited set of high-yield prehospital criteria are acceptable indicators of MTV. Isolated low- and intermediate-yield criteria may not be useful for initiating trauma center triage or full activation of hospital trauma teams.