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Performance of the Hull Salford Cambridge Decision Rule (HSC DR) for early discharge of patients with findings on CT scan of the brain: a CENTER-TBI validation study


Background There is international variation in hospital admission practices for patients with mild traumatic brain injury (TBI) and injuries on CT scan. Only a small proportion of patients require neurosurgical intervention, while many guidelines recommend routine admission of all patients. We aim to validate the Hull Salford Cambridge Decision Rule (HSC DR) and the Brain Injury Guidelines (BIG) criteria to select low-risk patients for discharge from the emergency department.

Method A cohort from 18 countries of Glasgow Coma Scale 13–15 patients with injuries on CT imaging was identified from the multicentre Collaborative European NeuroTrauma Effectiveness Research in TBI (CENTER-TBI) Study (conducted from 2014 to 2017) for secondary analysis. A composite outcome measure encompassing need for ongoing hospital admission was used, including seizure activity, death, intubation, neurosurgical intervention and neurological deterioration. We assessed the performance of our previously derived prognostic model, the HSC DR and the BIG criteria at predicting deterioration in this validation cohort.

Results Among 1047 patients meeting the inclusion criteria, 267 (26%) deteriorated. Our prognostic model achieved a C-statistic of 0.81 (95% CI: 0.78 to 0.84). The HSC DR achieved a sensitivity of 100% (95% CI: 97% to 100%) and specificity of only 4.7% (95% CI: 3.3% to 6.5%) for deterioration. Using the BIG criteria for discharge from the ED achieved a higher specificity (13.3%, 95% CI: 10.9% to 16.1%) and lower sensitivity (94.6%, 95% CI: 90.5% to 97%), with 12/105 patients recommended for discharge subsequently deteriorating, compared with 0/34 with the HSC DR.

Conclusion Our decision rule would have allowed 3.5% of patients to be discharged, none of whom would have deteriorated. Use of the BIG criteria may select patients for discharge who have too high a risk of subsequent deterioration to be used clinically. Further validation and implementation studies are required to support use in clinical practice.

  • trauma
  • head
  • research

Data availability statement

The data used for this study were obtained from the CENTER-TBI Study database. Data are available upon request to the CENTER-TBI investigators (

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