Should they stay or should they go? Who benefits from interfacility transfer to a higher-level trauma center following initial presentation at a lower-level trauma center

Tessa Adzemovic, Thomas Murray, Peter Jenkins, Julie Ottosen, Uroghupatei Iyegha, Krishnan Raghavendran, Lena M. Napolitano, Mark R. Hemmila, Jonathan Gipson, Pauline Park, Christopher J. Tignanelli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations

Abstract

BACKGROUND Interfacility transfer of patients from Level III/IV to Level I/II (tertiary) trauma centers has been associated with improved outcomes. However, little data are available classifying the specific subsets of patients that derive maximal benefit from transfer to a tertiary trauma center. Drawbacks to transfer include increased secondary overtriage. Here, we ask which injury patterns are associated with improved survival following interfacility transfer. METHODS Data from the National Trauma Data Bank was utilized. Inclusion criteria were adults (≥16 years). Patients with Injury Severity Score of 10 or less or those who arrived with no signs of life were excluded. Patients were divided into two cohorts: those admitted to a Level III/IV trauma center versus those transferred into a tertiary trauma center. Multiple imputation was performed for missing values, and propensity scores were generated based on demographics, injury patterns, and disease severity. Using propensity score-stratified Cox proportional hazards regression, the hazard ratio for time to death was estimated. RESULTS Twelve thousand five hundred thirty-four (5.2%) were admitted to Level III/IV trauma centers, and 227,315 (94.8%) were transferred to a tertiary trauma center. Patients transferred to a tertiary trauma center had reduced mortality (hazard ratio, 0.69; p < 0.001). We identified that patients with traumatic brain injury with Glasgow Coma Scale score less than 13, pelvic fracture, penetrating mechanism, solid organ injury, great vessel injury, respiratory distress, and tachycardia benefited from interfacility transfer to a tertiary trauma center. In this sample, 56.8% of the patients benefitted from transfer. Among those not transferred, 49.5% would have benefited from being transferred. CONCLUSION Interfacility transfer is associated with a survival benefit for specific patients. These data support implementation of minimum evidence-based criteria for interfacility transfer. LEVEL OF EVIDENCE Therapeutic/Care Management, Level IV.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)952-960
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Trauma and Acute Care Surgery
Volume86
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 1 2019

Keywords

  • Interfacility transfer
  • secondary overtriage
  • trauma systems
  • triage
  • undertriage

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article

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