Introduction Over the last decade, a number of European cities including London, have witnessed high profile terrorist attacks resulting in major incidents with large numbers of casualties. Triage, the process of categorising casualties on the basis of their clinical acuity, is a key principle in the effective management of major incidents.
The Modified Physiological Triage Tool (MPTT) is a recently developed primary triage tool which in comparison to existing triage tools, including the 2013 UK NARU Sieve, demonstrates the greatest sensitivity at predicting need for life-saving intervention (LSI) within both military and civilian populations.
To improve the applicability and usability of the MPTT we increased the upper respiratory rate threshold to 24 breaths per minute (MPTT-24), to make it divisible by four, and included an assessment of external catastrophic haemorrhage. The aim of this study was to conduct a feasibility analysis of the proposed MPTT-24 (figure 1).
Methods A retrospective review of the Joint Theatre Trauma Registry (JTTR) and Trauma Audit Research Network (TARN) databases was performed for all adult (>18 years) patients presenting between 2006–2013 (JTTR) and 2014 (TARN). Patients were defined as priority one (P1) if they had received one or more life-saving interventions.
Using first recorded hospital physiology, patients were categorised as P1 or not-P1 by existing triage tools and both MPTT and MPTT-24. Performance characteristics were evaluated using sensitivity, specificity, under and over-triage with a McNemar test to determine statistical significance.
Results Basic study characteristics are shown in Table 1. Both the MPTT and MPTT-24 outperformed all existing triage methods with a statistically significant (p<0.001) absolute reduction of between 25.5%–29.5% in under-triage when compared to existing UK civilian methods (NARU Sieve). In both populations the MPTT-24 demonstrated an absolute reduction in sensitivity with an increase in specificity when compared to the MPTT. A statistically significant difference was observed between the MPTT and MPTT-24 in the way they categorised TARN and JTTR cases as P1 (p<0.001).
Conclusion Existing UK methods of primary major incident triage, including the NARU Sieve, are not fit for purpose, with unacceptably high rates of under-triage. When compared to the MPTT, the MPTT-24 allows for a more rapid triage assessment and continues to outperform existing triage tools at predicting need for life-saving intervention. Its use should be considered in civilian and military major incidents.
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