Accurate field triage of injured patients saves lives and money : getting the right patient to the right place at the right time
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Accurate field triage of injured patients saves lives and money : getting the right patient to the right place at the right time

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      Injuries affect all Americans. They are the leading cause of death for children and adults from age 1 to 44 in the United States. At the scene of an injury, Emergency Medical Service (EMS) providers must identify the severity and type of injury, and determine which hospital or other facility would be the most appropriate to meet the needs of the patient. This is done through a process called “field triage.”

      Not all injured patients can or should be transported to a Level I trauma center. Other hospitals can effectively meet the needs of patients with less severe injuries, and may be closer to the scene. Transporting all injured patients to Level I centers—regardless of injury severity—limits the availability of Level I trauma center for those patients who really need the level of care provided at those facilities. Proper field triage ensures that patients are transported to the most appropriate healthcare facility that best matches their level of need.

      The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) partnered with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the American College of Surgeons to publish the “Guidelines for Field Triage of Injured Patients, Recommendations of the National Expert Panel on Field Triage” in 2009 in the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) [Guidelines for field triage of injured patients: recommendations of the National Expert Panel on Field Triage, 2011. Sasser SM et al. MMWR Recomm Rep. 2012 Jan 13;61(RR-1):1-20.] providing evidence based guidance for effective field triage.

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