Impact of trauma activation on the ED length of stay for nontraumatic patients

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Introduction:Trauma activation prioritizes hospital resources for the assessment and treatment of trauma patient over all patients in the emergency department (ED). We hypothesized that length of stay (LOS) is longer for nontrauma patients during a trauma activation.Methods:A retrospective, case-control chart review was conducted in a level I trauma center. Cases consist of patients who present 1 hour before and after the presentation of the trauma activation. Controls were patients presenting to the ED during the same period exactly 1 week before and after the cases. Confounding variables measured included sex, age, arrivals, and census for the 3 areas.Results:Two hundred ninety-four trauma events occurred from January 1 until September 30, 2009. A significant difference was found between LOS of patients seen during a trauma activation with an average increase of 10.7 minutes in LOS (P =.0082; 95% confidence interval [CI], 2.8–18.7). This difference is attributable to the middle acuity area of the ED, in which the average increase in LOS was 20.3 minutes (P = .0004; 95% CI, 9.1–31.5). Significant LOS difference was not found when a trauma activation had an LOS of less than 60 minutes (P = .30; 95% CI, −7.1–61.7 for trauma LOS <60 minutes vs P = .02; 95% CI, 1.6–18.0 for trauma LOS ≥60 minutes).Conclusion:This retrospective case-control chart review identified an increase in ED LOS for patient presenting during trauma activations. Resource prioritization should be accounted for during times when these critical patients enter the ED.

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