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Prehosp Emerg Care. 2012 Jul-Sep;16(3):323-8. doi: 10.3109/10903127.2012.682701. Epub 2012 May 1.

A review of traumatic brain injury trauma center visits meeting physiologic criteria from The American College of Surgeons Committee on Trauma/Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Field Triage Guidelines.

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  • 1National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, Georgia 30341, USA.



Traumatic brain injury (TBI) represents a serious subset of injuries among persons in the United States, and prehospital care of these injuries can mitigate both the morbidity and the mortality in patients who suffer from these injuries. Guidelines for triage of injured patients have been set forth by the American College of Surgeons Committee on Trauma (ACS-COT) in cooperation with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). These guidelines include physiologic criteria, such as the Glasgow Coma Scale (GCS) score, systolic blood pressure, and respiratory rate, which should be used in determining triage of an injured patient.


This study examined the numbers of visits at level I and II trauma centers by patients with a diagnosed TBI to determine the prevalence of those meeting physiologic criteria from the ACS-COT/CDC guidelines and to determine the extent of mortality among this patient population.


The data for this study were taken from the 2007 National Trauma Data Bank (NTDB) National Sample Program (NSP). This data set is a nationally representative sample of visits to level I and II trauma centers across the United States and is funded by the American College of Surgeons. Estimates of demographic characteristics, physiologic measures, and death were made for this study population using both chi-square analyses and adjusted logistic regression modeling.


The analyses demonstrated that although many people who sustain a TBI and were taken to a level I or II trauma center did not meet the physiologic criteria, those who did meet the physiologic criteria had significantly higher odds of death than those who did not meet the criteria. After controlling for age, gender, race, Injury Severity Score (ISS), and length of stay in the hospital, persons who had a GCS score ≤13 were 17 times more likely to die than TBI patients who had a higher GCS score (odds ratio [OR] 17.4; 95% confidence interval [CI] 10.7-28.3). Other physiologic criteria also demonstrated significant odds of death.


These findings support the validity of the ACS-COT/CDC physiologic criteria in this population and stress the importance of prehospital triage of patients with TBI in the hopes of reducing both the morbidity and the mortality resulting from this injury.

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