Clinical Decision Support Intervention and Time to Imaging in Older Patients with Traumatic Brain Injury

Arthur S. Nguyen, Simon Yang, Brian V. Thielen, Kristina Techar, Regina M. Lorenzo, Cameron Berg, Christopher Palmer, Jon L. Gipson, Michaela A West, Christopher J. Tignanelli

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5 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND: Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is the leading cause of elderly trauma admissions. Previous research identified that each minute delay to TBI diagnosis was associated with a 2% mortality increase, delaying treatment to older patients (age ≥70 years) who do not meet trauma activation criteria. A TBI protocol and clinical decision support intervention (CDS-I) were developed to reduce time to imaging in older patients with head trauma not meeting trauma activation criteria.

STUDY DESIGN: An emergency department (ED) head CT protocol and CDS-I were developed and implemented to facilitate rapid imaging of older patients. Patients age ≥ 70 years, with TBI and receiving anticoagulation, met inclusion criteria. The primary outcomes measure was time from ED arrival to head CT imaging comparing before (PRE: January 1, 2016 to December 31, 2016) vs after (POST: August 1, 2018 to April 3, 2019) protocol implementation. Negative binomial regression models evaluated the association of intervention on time to imaging. LOWESS (locally weighted scatterplot smoothing) was used to evaluate the association of intervention on mortality over time.

RESULTS: The study examined 451 patients (269 PRE and 182 POST). Positive head CTs were seen in 78 (17.3%), and 57 of 78 (73%) patients had a Glasgow Coma Scale > 13. POST-intervention decreased time to head CT from 56 to 27 minutes (interquartile range [IQR] PRE: 32 to 93 to POST:16 to 44, p < 0.001) and POST-intervention patients had reduced hospital length of stay (incidence rate ratio [IRR] 0.83, 95% CI 0.72 to 0.86, p = 0.01).

CONCLUSIONS: A significant proportion of older patients receiving anticoagulation, but not meeting trauma activation criteria, had positive CT findings. Implementation of a rapid triage protocol with CDS-I reduced time to imaging and may reduce mortality in the highest-risk populations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)361-367.e2
JournalJournal of the American College of Surgeons
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 American College of Surgeons

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article
  • Observational Study


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