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New Horizons in Understanding Appropriate Prehospital Identification and Trauma Triage for Older Adults

Authors Alshibani A, Banerjee J, Lecky F, Coats TJ, Alharbi M, Conroy S

Received 17 December 2020

Accepted for publication 26 February 2021

Published 26 March 2021 Volume 2021:13 Pages 117—135


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 3

Editor who approved publication: Dr Hans-Christoph Pape

Abdullah Alshibani,1,2 Jay Banerjee,1,3 Fiona Lecky,4 Timothy J Coats,3,5 Meshal Alharbi,2,5 Simon Conroy1

1Department of Health Sciences, College of Life Sciences, University of Leicester, Leicester, UK; 2Emergency Medical Services Department, College of Applied Medical Sciences, King Saud Bin Abdulaziz University for Health Sciences, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia; 3University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust, Leicester, UK; 4Centre for Urgent and Emergency Care Research, University of Sheffield, Sheffield, UK; 5Department of Cardiovascular Sciences, University of Leicester, Leicester, UK

Correspondence: Abdullah Alshibani
Department of Health Sciences, College of Life Sciences, George Davies Centre, University of Leicester, 15 Lancaster Road, Leicester, LE1 7HA, UK
Email [email protected]

Abstract: Caring for older people is an important part of prehospital practice, including appropriate triage and transportation decisions. However, prehospital triage criteria are designed to predominantly assess injury severity or high-energy mechanism which is not the case for older people who often have injuries compounded by multimorbidity and frailty. This has led to high rates of under-triage in this population. This narrative review aimed to assess aspects other than triage criteria to better understand and improve prehospital triage decisions for older trauma patients. This includes integrating frailty assessment in prehospital trauma triage, which was shown to predict adverse outcomes for older trauma patients. Furthermore, determining appropriate outcome measures and the benefits of Major Trauma Centers (MTCs) for older trauma patients should be considered in order to direct accurate and more beneficial prehospital trauma triage decisions. It is still not clear what are the appropriate outcome measures that should be applied when caring for older trauma patients. There is also no strong consensus about the benefits of MTC access for older trauma patients with regards to survival, in-hospital length of stay, discharge disposition, and complications. Moreover, looking into factors other than triage criteria such as distance to MTCs, patient or relative choice, training, unfamiliarity with protocols, and possible ageism, which were shown to impact prehospital triage decisions but their impact on outcomes has not been investigated yet, should be more actively assessed and investigated for this population. Therefore, this paper aimed to discuss the available evidence around frailty assessment in prehospital care, appropriate outcome measures for older trauma patients, the benefits of MTC access for older patients, and factors other than triage criteria that could adversely impact accurate prehospital triage decisions for older trauma patients. It also provided several suggestions for the future.

Keywords: undertriage, geriatrics, injury, emergency, paramedics, frailty

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