Should Age Be a Factor to Change From a Level II to a Level I Trauma Activation?

Department of General Surgery, Methodist Health System, Dallas, Texas 75203, USA.
The Journal of trauma (Impact Factor: 2.96). 07/2010; 69(1):88-92. DOI: 10.1097/TA.0b013e3181e291e9
Source: PubMed


Elderly trauma patients have a higher incidence of medical comorbidities when compared with their younger cohorts. Currently, the minimally accepted criteria established by the Committee on Trauma for the highest level of trauma activation (Level I) does not include age as a factor. Should patients older than 60 years with multiple injuries and/or a significant mechanism of injury be considered as part of the criteria for Level I activation? Would these patients benefit from a higher level of activation?
The National Trauma Data Bank was queried for the period of January 1, 1999, to December 31, 2008, for all trauma patients and associated injury severity score (ISS). The data abstracted were based on age and ISS.
The National Trauma Data Bank contained 802,211 trauma patients. Seventy-nine percent were younger than 60 years, and 21% were older than 60 years. Our analysis shows that in all levels of injury, patients older than 60 years have an increased risk for morbidity and mortality. We found a threefold increase in morbidity and a fivefold increase in mortality among the older (age >60 years) population with a minor ISS. Elderly patients with a major ISS demonstrated a twofold increase in morbidity and a fourfold increase in mortality.
Patients with an ISS between 0 and 15 are often triaged to Level II activation. Our data would suggest that patients older than 60 years should be a criterion for the highest level of trauma activation.

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