Although national guidelines have been published for the management of critically injured traumatic cardiopulmonary arrest (TCPA) patients, many hospital systems have not implemented in-hospital triage guidelines. The objective of this study was to determine if hospital resources could be preserved by implementation of an in-hospital tiered triage system for patients in TCPA with prolonged resuscitation who would likely be declared dead on arrival (DOA).
We conducted a retrospective analysis of 4,618 severely injured patients, admitted to our Level I trauma center from December 2000 to December 2008 for evaluation. All of the identified patients had sustained life-threatening penetrating and blunt injuries with pre-hospital TCPA. Patients who received cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) for 10 minutes were assessed for survival rate, neurologic outcome, and charge-for-activation (COA) for our hospital trauma system.
We evaluated 4,618 charts, which consisted of patients seen by the MSM trauma service from December 2001 through December 2008. We identified 140 patients with severe, life-threatening traumatic injuries, who sustained pre-hospital TCPA requiring prolonged CPR in the field and were brought to the emergency department (ED). Group I was comprised of 108 patients sustaining TCPA (53 blunt, 55 penetrating), who died after receiving < 45 minutes of ACLS after arrival. Group II, which consisted of 32 patients (25 blunt, 7 penetrating), had resuscitative efforts in the ED lasting > 45 minutes, but all ultimately died prior to discharge. Estimated hospital charge-for-activation for Group I was approximately $540,000, based on standard charges of $5000 per full-scale trauma system activation (TSA).
Full-scale trauma system activation for patients sustaining greater than 10 minutes of prehospital TCPA in the field is futile and economically depleting.