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Many triage algorithms exist for use in mass-casualty incidents (MCIs) involving pediatric patients. Most of these algorithms have not been validated for reliability across users.
Investigators sought to compare inter-rater reliability (IRR) and agreement among five MCI algorithms used in the pediatric population.
A dataset of 253 pediatric (<14 years of age) trauma activations from a Level I trauma center was used to obtain prehospital information and demographics. Three raters were trained on five MCI triage algorithms: Simple Triage and Rapid Treatment (START) and JumpSTART, as appropriate for age (combined as J-START); Sort Assess Life-Saving Intervention Treatment (SALT); Pediatric Triage Tape (PTT); CareFlight (CF); and Sacco Triage Method (STM). Patient outcomes were collected but not available to raters. Each rater triaged the full set of patients into Green, Yellow, Red, or Black categories with each of the five MCI algorithms. The IRR was reported as weighted kappa scores with 95% confidence intervals (CI). Descriptive statistics were used to describe inter-rater and inter-MCI algorithm agreement.
Of the 253 patients, 247 had complete triage assignments among the five algorithms and were included in the study. The IRR was excellent for a majority of the algorithms; however, J-START and CF had the highest reliability with a kappa 0.94 or higher (0.9-1.0, 95% CI for overall weighted kappa). The greatest variability was in SALT among Green and Yellow patients. Overall, J-START and CF had the highest inter-rater and inter-MCI algorithm agreements.
The IRR was excellent for a majority of the algorithms. The SALT algorithm, which contains subjective components, had the lowest IRR when applied to this dataset of pediatric trauma patients. Both J-START and CF demonstrated the best overall reliability and agreement.
Mass-casualty incident (MCI) algorithms are used to sort large numbers of patients rapidly into four basic categories based on severity. To date, there is no consensus on the best method to test the accuracy of an MCI algorithm in the pediatric population, nor on the agreement between different tools designed for this purpose.
This study is to compare agreement between the Criteria Outcomes Tool (COT) to previously published outcomes tools in assessing the triage category applied to a simulated set of pediatric MCI patients.
An MCI triage category (black, red, yellow, and green) was applied to patients from a pre-collected retrospective cohort of pediatric patients under 14 years of age brought in as a trauma activation to a Level I trauma center from July 2010 through November 2013 using each of the following outcome measures: COT, modified Baxt score, modified Baxt combined with mortality and/or length-of-stay (LOS), ambulatory status, mortality alone, and Injury Severity Score (ISS). Descriptive statistics were applied to determine agreement between tools.
A total of 247 patients were included, ranging from 25 days to 13 years of age. The outcome of mortality had 100% agreement with the COT black. The “modified Baxt positive and alive” outcome had the highest agreement with COT red (65%). All yellow outcomes had 47%-53% agreement with COT yellow. “Modified Baxt negative and <24 hours LOS” had the highest agreement with the COT green at 89%.
Assessment of algorithms for triaging pediatric MCI patients is complicated by the lack of a gold standard outcome tool and variability between existing measures.
It remains unclear which mass-casualty incident (MCI) triage tool best predicts outcomes for child disaster victims.
The primary objective of this study was to compare triage outcomes of Simple Triage and Rapid Treatment (START), modified START, and CareFlight in pediatric patients to an outcomes-based gold standard using the Criteria Outcomes Tool (COT). The secondary outcomes were sensitivity, specificity, under-triage, over-triage, and overall accuracy at each level for each MCI triage algorithm.
Singleton trauma patients under 16 years of age with complete prehospital, emergency department (ED), and in-patient data were identified in the 2007-2009 National Trauma Data Bank (NTDB). The COT outcomes and procedures were translated into ICD-9 procedure codes with added timing criteria. Gold standard triage levels were assigned using the COT based on outcomes, including mortality, injury type, admission to the hospital, and surgical procedures. Comparison triage levels were determined based on algorithmic depictions of the three MCI triage tools.
A total of 31,093 patients with complete data were identified from the NTDB. The COT was applied to these patients, and the breakdown of gold standard triage levels, based on their actual clinical outcomes, was: 17,333 (55.7%) GREEN; 11,587 (37.3%) YELLOW; 1,572 (5.1%) RED; and 601 (1.9%) BLACK. CareFlight had the best sensitivity for predicting COT outcomes for BLACK (83% [95% confidence interval, 80%-86%]) and GREEN patients (79% [95% CI, 79%-80%]) and the best specificity for RED patients (89% [95% CI, 89%-90%]).
Among three prehospital MCI triage tools, CareFlight had the best performance for correlating with outcomes in the COT. Overall, none of three tools had good test characteristics for predicting pediatric patient needs for surgical procedures or hospital admission.
Emergency Medical Services (EMS) systems have developed protocols for prehospital activation of the cardiac catheterization laboratory for patients with suspected ST-elevation myocardial infarction (STEMI) to decrease first-medical-contact-to-balloon time (FMC2B). The rate of “false positive” prehospital activations is high. In order to decrease this rate and expedite care for patients with true STEMI, the American Heart Association (AHA; Dallas, Texas USA) developed the Mission Lifeline PreAct STEMI algorithm, which was implemented in Los Angeles County (LAC; California USA) in 2015. The hypothesis of this study was that implementation of the PreAct algorithm would increase the positive predictive value (PPV) of prehospital activation.
This is an observational pre-/post-study of the effect of the implementation of the PreAct algorithm for patients with suspected STEMI transported to one of five STEMI Receiving Centers (SRCs) within the LAC Regional System. The primary outcome was the PPV of cardiac catheterization laboratory activation for percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI) or coronary artery bypass graft (CABG). The secondary outcome was FMC2B.
A total of 1,877 patients were analyzed for the primary outcome in the pre-intervention period and 405 patients in the post-intervention period. There was an overall decrease in cardiac catheterization laboratory activations, from 67% in the pre-intervention period to 49% in the post-intervention period (95% CI for the difference, -14% to -22%). The overall rate of cardiac catheterization declined in post-intervention period as compared the pre-intervention period, from 34% to 30% (95% CI, for the difference -7.6% to 0.4%), but actually increased for subjects who had activation (48% versus 58%; 95% CI, 4.6%-15.0%). Implementation of the PreAct algorithm was associated with an increase in the PPV of activation for PCI or CABG from 37.9% to 48.6%. The overall odds ratio (OR) associated with the intervention was 1.4 (95% CI, 1.1-1.8). The effect of the intervention was to decrease variability between medical centers. There was no associated change in average FMC2B.
The implementation of the PreAct algorithm in the LAC EMS system was associated with an overall increase in the PPV of cardiac catheterization laboratory activation.
The Sort, Access, Life-saving interventions, Treatment and/or Triage (SALT) mass-casualty incident (MCI) algorithm is unique in that it includes two subjective questions during the triage process: “Is the victim likely to survive given the resources?” and “Is the injury minor?”
Given this subjectivity, it was hypothesized that as casualties increase, the inter-rater reliability (IRR) of the tool would decline, due to an increase in the number of patients triaged as Minor and Expectant.
A pre-collected dataset of pediatric trauma patients age <14 years from a single Level 1 trauma center was used to generate “patients.” Three trained raters triaged each patient using SALT as if they were in each of the following scenarios: 10, 100, and 1,000 victim MCIs. Cohen’s kappa test was used to evaluate IRR between the raters in each of the scenarios.
A total of 247 patients were available for triage. The kappas were consistently “poor” to “fair:” 0.37 to 0.59 in the 10-victim scenario; 0.13 to 0.36 in the 100-victim scenario; and 0.05 to 0.36 in the 1,000-victim scenario. There was an increasing percentage of subjects triaged Minor as the number of estimated victims increased: 27.8% increase from 10- to 100-victim scenario and 7.0% increase from 100- to 1,000-victim scenario. Expectant triage categorization of patients remained stable as victim numbers increased.
Overall, SALT demonstrated poor IRR in this study of increasing casualty counts while triaging pediatric patients. Increased casualty counts in the scenarios did lead to increased Minor but not Expectant categorizations.
Field identification of ST-elevation myocardial infarction (STEMI) and advanced hospital notification decreases first-medical-contact-to-balloon (FMC2B) time. A recent study in this system found that electrocardiogram (ECG) transmission following a STEMI alert was frequently unsuccessful.
Instituting weekly test ECG transmissions from paramedic units to the hospital would increase successful transmission of ECGs and decrease FMC2B and door-to-balloon (D2B) times.
This was a natural experiment of consecutive patients with field-identified STEMI transported to a single percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI)-capable hospital in a regional STEMI system before and after implementation of scheduled test ECG transmissions. In November 2014, paramedic units began weekly test transmissions. The mobile intensive care nurse (MICN) confirmed the transmission, or if not received, contacted the paramedic unit and the department’s nurse educator to identify and resolve the problem. Per system-wide protocol, paramedics transmit all ECGs with interpretation of STEMI. Receiving hospitals submit patient data to a single registry as part of ongoing system quality improvement. The frequency of successful ECG transmission and time to intervention (FMC2B and D2B times) in the 18 months following implementation was compared to the 10 months prior. Post-implementation, the time the ECG transmission was received was also collected to determine the transmission gap time (time from ECG acquisition to ECG transmission received) and the advanced notification time (time from ECG transmission received to patient arrival).
There were 388 patients with field ECG interpretations of STEMI, 131 pre-intervention and 257 post-intervention. The frequency of successful transmission post-intervention was 73% compared to 64% prior; risk difference (RD)=9%; 95% CI, 1-18%. In the post-intervention period, the median FMC2B time was 79 minutes (inter-quartile range [IQR]=68-102) versus 86 minutes (IQR=71-108) pre-intervention (P=.3) and the median D2B time was 59 minutes (IQR=44-74) versus 60 minutes (IQR=53-88) pre-intervention (P=.2). The median transmission gap was three minutes (IQR=1-8) and median advanced notification time was 16 minutes (IQR=10-25).
Implementation of weekly test ECG transmissions was associated with improvement in successful real-time transmissions from field to hospital, which provided a median advanced notification time of 16 minutes, but no decrease in FMC2B or D2B times.
A simple, portable capillary refill time (CRT) simulator is not commercially available. This device would be useful in mass-casualty simulations with multiple volunteers or mannequins depicting a variety of clinical findings and CRTs. The objective of this study was to develop and evaluate a prototype CRT simulator in a disaster simulation context.
A CRT prototype simulator was developed by embedding a pressure-sensitive piezo crystal, and a single red light-emitting diode (LED) light was embedded, within a flesh-toned resin. The LED light was programmed to turn white proportionate to the pressure applied, and gradually to return to red on release. The time to color return was adjustable with an external dial. The prototype was tested for feasibility among two cohorts: emergency medicine physicians in a tabletop exercise and second year medical students within an actual disaster triage drill. The realism of the simulator was compared to video-based CRT, and participants used a Visual Analog Scale (VAS) ranging from “completely artificial” to “as if on a real patient.” The VAS evaluated both the visual realism and the functional (eg, tactile) realism. Accuracy of CRT was evaluated only by the physician cohort. Data were analyzed using parametric and non-parametric statistics, and mean Cohen’s Kappas were used to describe inter-rater reliability.
The CRT simulator was generally well received by the participants. The simulator was perceived to have slightly higher functional realism (P=.06, P=.01) but lower visual realism (P=.002, P=.11) than the video-based CRT. Emergency medicine physicians had higher accuracy on portrayed CRT on the simulator than the videos (92.6% versus 71.1%; P<.001). Inter-rater reliability was higher for the simulator (0.78 versus 0.27; P<.001).
A simple, LED-based CRT simulator was well received in both settings. Prior to widespread use for disaster triage training, validation on participants’ ability to accurately triage disaster victims using CRT simulators and video-based CRT simulations should be performed.
ChangTP, SantillanesG, Claudius I, PhamPK, KovedJ, CheyneJ, Gausche-HillM, KajiAH, SrinivasanS, DonofrioJJ, BirC. Use of a Novel, Portable, LED-Based Capillary Refill Time Simulator within a Disaster Triage Context. Prehosp Disaster Med. 2017;32(4):451–456.
Using the pediatric version of the Simple Triage and Rapid Treatment (JumpSTART) algorithm for the triage of pediatric patients in a mass-casualty incident (MCI) requires assessing the results of each step and determining whether to move to the next appropriate action. Inappropriate application can lead to performance of unnecessary actions or failure to perform necessary actions.
To report overall accuracy and time required for triage, and to assess if the performance of unnecessary steps, or failure to perform required steps, in the triage algorithm was associated with inaccuracy of triage designation or increased time to reach a triage decision.
Medical students participated in an MCI drill in which they triaged both live actors portraying patients and computer-based simulated patients to the four triage levels: minor, delayed, immediate, and expectant. Their performance was timed and compared to intended triage designations and a priori determined critical actions.
Thirty-three students completed 363 scenarios. The overall accuracy was 85.7% and overall mean time to assign a triage designation was 70.4 seconds, with decreasing times as triage acuity level decreased. In over one-half of cases, the student omitted at least one action and/or performed at least one action that was not required. Each unnecessary action increased time to triage by a mean of 8.4 seconds and each omitted action increased time to triage by a mean of 5.5 seconds.
Increasing triage level, performance of inappropriate actions, and omission of recommended actions were all associated with increasing time to perform triage.
ClaudiusI, KajiAH, SantillanesG, CiceroMX, DonofrioJJ, Gausche-HillM, SrinivasanS, ChangTP. Accuracy, Efficiency, and Inappropriate Actions Using JumpSTART Triage in MCI Simulations. Prehosp Disaster Med. 2015;30(5):457–460.
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