Prehospital personnel discretion pediatric trauma team activations: Too much of a good thing?

Document Type



Paediatric Surgery


Purpose: Trauma team activation is essential to provide rapid assessment of injured patients, however excessive utilization can overburden systems. We aimed to identify predictors of over triage and evaluate impact of prehospital personal discretion trauma activations on the over triage rate.
Methods: Retrospective comparative study of pediatric trauma patients (<18 >years) evaluated after activation of the trauma team to those evaluated as a trauma consult treated between 2010 and 2013. Cohort matching of trauma activated and consult patients was done on the basis of patients' age and ISS.
Results: 1363 patients including 359 trauma team activations were evaluated. Median age was 6 years, Injury Severity Score (ISS) 4, 116 (8.5%) required operative intervention and 20 (1.4%) died. Matched analysis using age and ISS showed trauma activated patients were more likely to have penetrating MOI (4.7% vs.1.7%; p = 0.03) and need ICU admission(32.9% vs.16.7%; p = 0.0001). State of Florida discrete criteria based trauma activated patients when compared to paramedic discretion activations had a higher ISS (9 vs.5; p = 0.014), need for ICU admission (36.5% vs.20.4%; p = 0.004), ICU LOS(2 vs.0 days; p = 0.02), hospital LOS(2 vs.2 days; p = 0.014) and higher likelihood of death(4.9% vs.0%;p = 0.0001). Moreover, paramedic discretion trauma activated patients were similar to trauma consult patients in terms of ISS score(p = 0.86), need for ICU admission(p = 0.86), operative intervention(p = 0.86), death(p = 0.86) and hospital LOS(p = 0.86), with a considerably higher cost of care(p = 0.0002).
Conclusion: Discrete criteria-based trauma team activations appear to more reliably identify patients likely to benefit from initial multidisciplinary management.


This work was published before the author joined Aga Khan University.

Publication (Name of Journal)

Journal of Pediatric Surgery