Ability of the Physiologic Criteria of the Field Triage Guidelines to Identify Children Who Need the Resources of a Trauma Center

E. Brooke Lerner, Amy L. Drendel, Jeremy T. Cushman, Mohamed Badawy, Manish N. Shah, Clare E. Guse, Arthur Cooper

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

6 Scopus citations


Background: There is limited research on how well the American College of Surgeons/Center for Disease Control and Prevention Guidelines for Field Triage of Injured Patients assist EMS providers in identifying children who need the resources of a trauma center. Objective: To determine the accuracy of the Physiologic Criteria (Step 1) of the Field Triage Guidelines in identifying injured children who need the resources of a trauma center. Methods: EMS providers who transported injured children 15 years and younger to pediatric trauma centers in 3 mid-sized cities were interviewed regarding patient demographics and the presence or absence of each of the Field Triage Guidelines criteria. Children were considered to have needed a trauma center if they had non-orthopedic surgery within 24 hours, ICU admission, or died. This data was obtained through a structured hospital record review. The over- and under-triage rates and positive likelihood ratios (+LR) were calculated for the overall Physiologic Criteria and each individual criterion. Results: Interviews were conducted for 5,610 pediatric patients; outcome data were available for 5,594 (99.7%): 5% of all patients needed the resources of a trauma center and 19% met the physiologic criteria. Using the physiologic criteria alone, 51% of children who needed a trauma center would have been under-triaged and 18% would have been over-triaged (+LR 2.8, 95% CI 2.4–3.2). Glasgow Coma Score (GCS) < 14 had a +LR of 14.3 (95% CI 11.2–18.3), with EMS not obtaining a GCS in 4% of cases. 54% of those with an EMS GCS < 14 had an initial ED GCS < 14. Abnormal respiratory rate (RR) had a +LR of 2.2 (95% CI 1.8–2.6), with EMS not obtaining a RR in 5% of cases. 41% of those with an abnormal EMS RR had an abnormal initial ED RR. Systolic blood pressure (SBP) < 90 had a +LR of 3.5 (95% CI 2.5–5.1), with EMS not obtaining a SBP in 20% of cases. SBP was not obtained for 79% of children <1 year, 46% 1–4 years, 7% 5–9 years, and 2% 10–15 years. A total of 19% of those with an EMS SBP < 90 had an initial ED SBP < 90. Conclusions: The Physiologic Criteria are a moderate predictor of trauma center need for children. Missing or inaccurate vital signs may be limiting the predictive value of the Physiologic Criteria.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-5
Number of pages5
JournalPrehospital Emergency Care
Publication statusAccepted/In press - Oct 5 2016


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Emergency Medicine
  • Emergency

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