Understanding the etiology of missed injuries is essential in minimizing its occurrence. A retrospective review was conducted to identify the incidence, contributing factors, and clinical outcomes of missed injuries.
All trauma patients assessed by St Michael’s Hospital trauma service from April 1, 1995, to July 31, 1997, were included in the study. Demographic and medical data were compared and statistically analyzed in two patient groups to identify factors associated with missed injuries.
Forty six of 567 patients (8.1%) had missed injuries. Patients with missed injuries had higher mean Injury Severity Scores and longer stays in the hospital and intensive care unit compared with patients without missed injuries (p
< 0.05). Patients with missed injuries were more likely to have lower Glasgow Coma Scale scores and to have required pharmacologic paralysis (p
< 0.05). Of the factors contributing to missed injuries, 56.3% were potentially avoidable and 43.8% were unavoidable. Seven patients with missed injuries had clinically significant outcomes, including one patient death. Of the seven clinically significant missed injuries, five were attributable to potentially avoidable factors.
Patients with missed injuries tend to be more severely injured with initial neurologic compromise. The majority of missed injuries are potentially avoidable with repeat clinical assessments and a high index of suspicion.