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Acad Emerg Med. 2004 Aug;11(8):834-42.

Initial emergency department trauma scores from the OPALS study: the case for the motor score in blunt trauma.

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  • 1Department of Emergency Medicine, Department of Epidemiology and Community MedicineUniversity of Ottawa, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.



To compare the predictive accuracy of the Revised Trauma Score (RTS), the Glasgow Coma Scale (GCS), and their components in blunt trauma patients.


This multicenter prospective cohort study was conducted in 20 communities as part of the Ontario Prehospital Advanced Life Support (OPALS) Study. It included adult trauma patients with Injury Severity Scores >12. The assessments made by trauma team leaders for the RTS, GCS, and their subscales were analyzed: 1) receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curve areas and Kendall's tau c correlation coefficient (Tc) for survival to hospital discharge, 2) Mann-Whitney U test and Tc correlations for intensive care unit admission, and 3) Spearman correlations with the disability measure Glasgow Outcome Scale.


The authors analyzed data from 795 blunt trauma patients with these characteristics: median age of 40 years, 70% male, and 18% mortality. The scores that best predicted survival were the RTS (ROC = 0.83, Tc = 0.39), the GCS (ROC = 0.82, Tc = 0.38), the motor component of the GCS (ROC = 0.81, Tc = 0.37), and the verbal component of the GCS (ROC = 0.81, Tc = 0.36). Only scores for the RTS (p = 0.03), the GCS (p = 0.02), and the motor component of the GCS (p = 0.03) showed a significant association with admission to the intensive care unit. The associations with disability were weak in all scores.


The initial emergency department motor score showed the highest predictive validity among all of the other components. These results suggest its validity for blunt trauma triage when compared with the GCS or RTS.

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