Trauma centers are challenged to have appropriate criteria to identify injured patients needing a trauma activation; one population that is difficult to triage is injured elderly patients taking anticoagulation or antiplatelet (ACAP) medications with suspected head injury.
The study purpose was to evaluate a hospital initiative to improve the trauma triage response for this population.
A retrospective study at a Level I trauma center evaluated revised trauma response criteria. In Phase 1 (June 2017 to April 2018; n = 91), a limited activation occurred in the trauma bay for injured patients 55 years and older, taking ACAP medications with evidence of head injury. In Phase 2 (June 2018 to April 2019; n = 142), patients taking ACAP medications with evidence of head injury received a rapid emergency department (ED) response. Primary outcomes were timeliness of ED interventions and hospital admission rates. Differences between phases were assessed with Kruskal–Wallis tests.
An ED rapid response significantly reduced trauma team involvement (100%–13%, p < .001). Compared with Phase 1, patients in Phase 2 were more frequently discharged from the ED (48% vs. 68%, p = .003), and ED disposition decision was made more quickly (147 vs. 120 min, p = .01). In Phase 2, time to ED disposition decision was longer for patients who required hospital admission (108 vs. 179 min, p < .001); however, there were no significant differences between phases in reversal intervention (6% vs. 11%, p = .39) or timeliness of reversal intervention (49 vs. 118 min, p = .51).
The ED rapid response delivered safe, timely evaluation to injured elderly patients without overutilizing trauma team activations.