Advanced Trauma Life Support resuscitation follows a strict protocolized approach to the initial trauma evaluation. Despite this structure, elements of the primary and secondary assessments can still be omitted. The aim of this study is to determine if a cognitive aid checklist reduces omissions and speeds the time to assessment completion. We additionally investigated if a displayed checklist improved performance further.
A series of 131 simulated trauma resuscitations were performed. Teams were randomized to 1 of 3 arms (no checklist, handheld checklist, or displayed). The scenarios were recorded and analyzed to determine time to completion and absolute completion of tasks of the primary and secondary survey. The workload of individual team members was assessed via NASA-TLX.
There was no difference in time to completion of surveys among the 3 arms. In the primary survey, there was a nonsignificant increase in the number of completed tasks with the use of the displayed checklist. In the secondary survey, there was a significant improvement in task completion with the displayed checklists with improved evaluation of the pelvis (P = 0.011), lower extremities (P = 0.048), and covering the patient (P = 0.046). There was a significant improvement in performance in those reported among nurse documenters with use of the displayed checklist.
Despite a structured approach to trauma resuscitations, omissions still occur. The use of a displayed checklist improves performance and reduces omissions without delaying assessment. Better compliance with Advanced Trauma Life Support protocols may improve patient outcomes.