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Prehospital vital signs are used to triage trauma patients to mobilize appropriate resources and personnel prior to patient arrival in the emergency department (ED). Due to inherent challenges in obtaining prehospital vital signs, concerns exist regarding their accuracy and ability to predict first ED vitals.
The objective of this study was to determine the correlation between prehospital and initial ED vitals among patients meeting criteria for highest levels of trauma team activation (TTA). The hypothesis was that in a medical system with short transport times, prehospital and first ED vital signs would correlate well.
Patients meeting criteria for highest levels of TTA at a Level I trauma center (2008-2018) were included. Those with absent or missing prehospital vital signs were excluded. Demographics, injury data, and prehospital and first ED vital signs were abstracted. Prehospital and initial ED vital signs were compared using Bland-Altman intraclass correlation coefficients (ICC) with good agreement as >0.60; fair as 0.40-0.60; and poor as <0.40).
After exclusions, 15,320 patients were included. Mean age was 39 years (range 0-105) and 11,622 patients (76%) were male. Mechanism of injury was blunt in 79% (n = 12,041) and mortality was three percent (n = 513). Mean transport time was 21 minutes (range 0-1,439). Prehospital and first ED vital signs demonstrated good agreement for Glasgow Coma Scale (GCS) score (ICC 0.79; 95% CI, 0.77-0.79); fair agreement for heart rate (HR; ICC 0.59; 95% CI, 0.56-0.61) and systolic blood pressure (SBP; ICC 0.48; 95% CI, 0.46-0.49); and poor agreement for pulse pressure (PP; ICC 0.32; 95% CI, 0.30-0.33) and respiratory rate (RR; ICC 0.13; 95% CI, 0.11-0.15).
Despite challenges in prehospital assessments, field GCS, SBP, and HR correlate well with first ED vital signs. The data show that these prehospital measurements accurately predict initial ED vitals in an urban setting with short transport times. The generalizability of these data to settings with longer transport times is unknown.
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