Study challenges EMS triage policies for disaster response
Copyright 2007 Science Daily
NEW YORK — In the face of terrorism and catastrophic natural disasters, modern regional trauma systems that improve survival for critically injured patients are more vital than ever.
Yet many fundamental assumptions underlying these systems — such as the notion that it is imperative to send the sickest patients to the hospital first — have rarely been subjected to rigorous scientific scrutiny. Now, for the first time, researchers at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center have created a computer simulation model of trauma system response to mass casualty incidents involving dozens or hundreds of injured victims. The study shows that the best response depends more on the capability of regional hospitals to treat critically injured victims than on the ability to accurately identify those victims in the field.
"There's been the notion gleaned from prior studies that 'overtriage' — letting some people into emergency care who might not actually need it — usually ends up costing lives, with deaths rising as overtriage rates increase. But our new model demonstrates that overtriage alone is unlikely to be the culprit," says lead researcher Dr. Nathaniel Hupert, assistant professor of public health and medicine at Weill Cornell Medical College and assistant attending physician at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center.