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Ann Plast Surg. 2012 Oct;69(4):442-5. doi: 10.1097/SAP.0b013e31824b26e7.

Delayed diagnosis of hand injuries in polytrauma patients.

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Department of Surgery, Division of Plastic Surgery, Lehigh Valley Health Network, Allentown, PA 18105-1556, USA.


Trauma patients are at high risk for delayed diagnosis of injuries, including those to the hand, with reports in the literature as high as 50%. As a result, patients may have prolonged disability and longer hospital stays with associated increased costs. Our objective was to elucidate risk factors for the delayed diagnosis of hand injuries. A review was performed from 2000 through 2009, assessing for age, sex, blood alcohol level, Glasgow Coma Score (GCS), Injury Severity Score (ISS), mechanism, injury type, length of stay, and timing of hand injury diagnosis. In this study, 36,568 patients were identified; 738 meeting criteria; 21.7% of patients had delayed diagnoses with 91.3% of patients diagnosed by the day after admission. Delayed diagnoses were more than 2 times higher for severely injured patients. Patients with delayed diagnoses had a lower GCS and a higher ISS and length of hospitalization. With a decreased GCS and elevated ISS, patients are at risk for delayed diagnoses of hand injuries. A focused tertiary survey is mandatory, particularly in patients with an altered mental status or with multiple injuries.

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