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The accuracy of existing prehospital triage tools for injured children in England—an analysis using trauma registry data


Objectives To investigate the performance characteristics of prehospital paediatric triage tools for identifying seriously injured children in England.

Design Eight prehospital paediatric triage tools were identified by literature review and by survey of the Lead Trauma Clinicians across English Strategic Health Authorities. Retrospective clinical registry data from the Trauma Audit and Research Network were used to determine the performance characteristics of each tool, using ‘gold standards’ for under- and over-triage of <5% and <25–50%, respectively, as benchmarks for performance.

Participants 701 patient records were included. Inclusion criteria were all injured patients aged <16 years admitted to a receiving unit direct from the scene of accident in the period 2007–2010, for whom all key discriminator fields were recorded in the Trauma Audit and Research Network database.

Outcome measures The main outcome measure was how each tool functioned with regard to their under- and over-triaging features. Other performance characteristics, for example, predictive values and likelihood ratios were also calculated.

Results Two (of eight) triage tools demonstrated acceptable under-triage rates (3% and 4%) but had unacceptably high over-triage rates (83% and 72%). Two tools demonstrated acceptable over-triage rates (7% and 16%), but with unacceptably high under-triage rates (61% and 63%). Four tools had unacceptably high under- and over-triage rates.

Conclusions None of the prehospital triage tools currently used or being developed in England meet recommended criteria for over- and under-triage rates. There is an urgent need for the development of triage tools to accurately risk-stratify injured children in the prehospital setting.

  • Trauma
  • major trauma management
  • paediatrics
  • paediatric emergency medicine
  • paediatric injury
  • paramedics
  • clinical management
  • statistics
  • epidemiology
  • clinical
  • effectiveness
  • clinical care
  • emergency department
  • paediatric emergency med
  • resuscitation
  • paediatric resuscitation
  • major incidents
  • emergency care systems

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