Assessing Geriatric Patients With Head Injury in the Emergency Department Using the Novel Level III Trauma Protocol.
American Journal of Emergency Medicine
INTRODUCTION: Intracranial injury in elderly patients presenting with minor head trauma is often overlooked in the emergency department (ED). Our suburban community-based level II trauma hospital developed and implemented the level III trauma protocol (L3TP) in January 2016 to better evaluate and diagnose intracranial injury in elderly patients presenting with minor head trauma after a fall. The L3TP requires that the ED physician immediately assess all patients meeting the following criteria 1) Age ≥ 65 years old. 2) Currently taking any anticoagulant or antiplatelet agents. 3) Presenting in the ED with a potential head injury after a fall. The ED physician determines if these high-risk patients require emergent imaging, obviating the need for trauma team activation unless an intracranial hemorrhage (ICH) is found. The purpose of this study was to assess the impact of the novel L3TP on resource utilization and patient outcome.
METHODS: Our retrospective cohort study included patients who met the L3TP inclusion criteria and had an ICH diagnosed by non-contrast computed tomography (CT). We compared patients triaged by the L3TP (January to December 2017) to patients triaged before the L3TP was implemented (January to August 2015) in order to assess the impact of the L3TP on resource utilization and patient outcome. The data was analyzed using two independent samples t-tests and Chi-square tests.
RESULTS: Patients triaged by the L3TP had a significantly shorter average length of time from arrival in the ED to CT (level III trauma 0.64 h vs control 2.37 h, (d = 1.73; 95% CI = 1.42, 2.04), p ≤ 0.0001) and ED length of stay (level III trauma 2.55 h vs control 4.72 h, (d = 2.17; 95% CI = 1.21, 3.13), p ≤ 0.0001). There was insufficient evidence to conclude that there was any difference in health outcomes between the control and level III trauma groups.
CONCLUSION: The L3TP is an effective and resource efficient protocol that quickly identifies ICH in elderly patients without activating the trauma team for every elderly patient presenting to the ED with a potential head injury after a fall.
Travers B, Jones S, Bastani A, Opsommer M, Beydoun A, Karabon P, Donaldson D. Assessing geriatric patients with head injury in the emergency department using the novel level III trauma protocol. Am J Emerg Med. 2021 Jul;45:149-153. doi: 10.1016/j.ajem.2020.11.027. Epub 2020 Nov 18. PMID: 33229252.