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1 "Allison N. Tegge"
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Original Article
Impact of nonphysician, technology-guided alert level selection on rates of appropriate trauma triage in the United States: a before and after study
Megan E. Harrigan, Pamela A. Boremski, Bryan R. Collier, Allison N. Tegge, Jacob R. Gillen
J Trauma Inj. 2023;36(3):231-241.   Published online September 13, 2023
DOI: https://doi.org/10.20408/jti.2023.0020
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AbstractAbstract PDF
Purpose
The rates of overtriage and undertriage are critical metrics in trauma care, influenced by the criteria for trauma team activation (TTA) and compliance with these criteria. An analysis of undertriaged patients at a level I trauma center revealed suboptimal compliance with existing criteria. This study was conducted to assess triage patterns after the implementation of compliance-focused process interventions.
Methods
Several workflow changes were made to transform a physician-driven, free-text alert system into a nonphysician, hospital dispatcher–guided system. The latter system employs dropdown menus to maximize compliance with existing TTA criteria. The preintervention period included patients who presented to the level I trauma center between May 12, 2020, and December 31, 2020. The postintervention period incorporated patients who presented from May 12, 2021, through December 31, 2021. We evaluated the rates of appropriate triage, overtriage, and undertriage using the Standardized Trauma Assessment Tool and patient characteristics from the trauma registry. All statistical analyses were conducted with an α level of 0.05.
Results
The patient characteristics were largely comparable between the preintervention and postintervention groups. The new system was associated with improved overall compliance with the existing TTA criteria (from 70.3% to 79.3%, P=0.023) and a decreased rate of undertriage (from 6.0% to 3.2%, P=0.002) at the expense of increasing overtriage (from 46.6% to 57.4%, P<0.001), ultimately decreasing the appropriate triage rate (from 78.4% to 74.6%, P=0.007).
Conclusions
This study assessed an easily implementable workflow change designed to improve compliance with TTA criteria. Improved compliance decreased undertriage rates to below the target threshold of 5%, albeit at the expense of increased overtriage. The observed decrease in appropriate triage despite compliance improvements suggests that the current TTA criteria at this institution are not adequately tailored to optimally balance the minimization of both undertriage and overtriage. This finding underscores the importance of improved compliance in evaluating the efficacy of TTA criteria.
Summary

J Trauma Inj : Journal of Trauma and Injury