Effect of the 2011 Revisions to the Field Triage Guidelines on Under- and Over-Triage Rates for Pediatric Trauma Patients

E. Brooke Lerner, Jeremy T. Cushman, Amy L. Drendel, Mohamed Badawy, Manish N. Shah, Clare E. Guse, Arthur Cooper

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Background: In 2011, revised Field Triage Guidelines were released jointly by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the American College of Surgeons–Committee on Trauma (ACS-COT). It is unknown how the modifications will affect the number of injured children identified by EMS providers as needing transport to a trauma center. Objective: To determine the change in under- and over-triage rates when the 2011 Field Triage Guidelines are compared to the 2006 and 1999 versions. Methods: EMS providers in charge of care for injured children (<15 years) transported to pediatric trauma centers in 3 mid-sized cities were interviewed immediately after completing transport. Patients were included regardless of injury severity. The interview included patient demographics and each criterion from the Field Triage Guidelines' physiologic status, anatomic injury, and mechanism of injury steps. Included patients were followed through hospital discharge. The 1999, 2006, and 2011 Guidelines were each retrospectively applied to the collected data. Children were considered to have needed a trauma center if they had non-orthopedic surgery within 24 hours, ICU admission, or died. Data were analyzed using descriptive statistics. Results: EMS interviews were conducted for 5,610 children and outcome data was available for 5,594 (99.7%). Average age was 7.6 years; 5% of children were identified as needing a trauma center using the study outcome. Applying the 1999, 2006, or 2011 Guidelines to the EMS interview data the over-triage rate was 32.6%, 27.9%, and 28.0%, respectively. The under-triage rate was 26.5%, 35.1%, and 34.8%, respectively. The 2011 Guidelines resulted in an 8.2% (95% CI 0.6–15.9%) absolute increase in under-triage and a 4.6% (95% CI 2.8–6.3%) decrease in over-triage compared to 1999 Guidelines. Conclusion: Use of the Field Triage Guidelines for children resulted in an unacceptably high rate of under-triage regardless of the version used. Use of the 2011 Guidelines increased under-triage compared to the 1999 version. Research is needed to determine how to better assist EMS providers in identifying children who need the resources of a trauma center.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)456-460
Number of pages5
JournalPrehospital Emergency Care
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 4 2017


  • emergency medical services
  • emergency medical technicians
  • pediatrics
  • triage
  • wounds and injury

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Emergency Medicine
  • Emergency


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