Background International guidelines recommend routine hospital admission for all patients with mild traumatic brain injury (TBI) who have injuries on CT brain scan. Only a small proportion of these patients require neurosurgical or critical care intervention. We aimed to develop an accurate clinical decision rule to identify low risk patients safe for discharge from the emergency department (ED) and facilitate earlier referral of those requiring intervention.
Method and results A retrospective cohort study of case-notes of patients admitted with initial GCS13-15 and injuries identified by CT was completed. Data on a primary outcome measure of clinically important deterioration (indicating need for hospital admission) and secondary outcome of neurosurgery, ICU admission or intubation (indicating need for neurosurgical admission) were collected. Multivariable logistic regression was used to derive models and a risk score predicting deterioration using routinely reported candidate variables identified in a systematic review. We compared the performance of this new risk score with the Brain Injury Guideline (BIG) criteria, derived in the USA.
Conclusions 1699 patients were included from 3 English Major Trauma Centres. 27.7% (95% CI: 25.5% to 29.9%) met the primary, and 13.1% (95% CI: 11.6% to 14.8%) met the secondary, outcome of deterioration. The derived clinical decision rule suggests that patients with simple skull fractures or intracranial bleeding less than 5 mm in diameter who are fully conscious could be safely discharged from the Emergency Department. The decision rule achieved a sensitivity of 99.5% (95% CI: 98.1% to 99.9%) and specificity of 7.4% (95% CI: 6% to 9.1%) to the primary outcome. The BIG criteria achieved the same sensitivity but lower specificity (5%).
Our empirical models showed good predictive performance and outperformed the BIG criteria. This would potentially allow ED discharge of one in twenty patients currently admitted for observation. However prospective external validation and economic evaluation is required.
Statistics from Altmetric.com
If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.