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Towards improving prehospital triage for older trauma patients.
journal contributionposted on 01.03.2021, 09:55 by Abdullah Alshibani, Boris Singler, Simon Conroy
BACKGROUND: The proportion of older adults with major trauma is increasing. High-quality care for this population requires accurate and effective prehospital trauma triage decisions. OBJECTIVE: Anatomical and physiological changes with age, comorbidities, and medication use for older adults may affect the accuracy of prehospital trauma triage. MATERIAL AND METHODS: This narrative review focusses on age-related anatomical and physiological changes, comorbidities, and medication use for older adults with an emphasis on their impact on the accuracy of prehospital trauma triage tools. It also addresses the efforts to develop alternative triage criteria to reduce undertriage. RESULTS: Age-related anatomical and physiological changes, comorbidities, and medication use were shown to affect physiological responses to injury and mechanism of injury for older people. Current triage tools poorly predicted injury severity. Geriatric-specific physiological measures and comorbidities significantly improved sensitivity with much lower specificity. Assessing anticoagulant or antiplatelet use in head injury notably improved sensitivity to identify traumatic intracranial hemorrhage, neurosurgery or death with modest decrease in specificity. CONCLUSION: Improving prehospital providers' knowledge about the challenges of assessing older people with trauma may reduce undertriage. Assessing frailty could help in improving prehospital providers' judgments. Future research is needed to improve triage decisions for this population.