Effect of Family Presence on Advanced Trauma Life Support Task Performance During Pediatric Trauma Team Evaluation

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In many hospitals, family members are separated from their children during the early phases of trauma care. Including family members during this phase of trauma care varies by institution and is limited by concerns for adverse effects on clinical care.


The aim of this study is to evaluate the effect of family presence (FP) on advanced trauma life support primary and secondary survey task performance by pediatric trauma teams. We hypothesized that trauma care with FP would be noninferior to care when families were absent.


We performed a retrospective video review of consecutive pediatric trauma evaluations. Family presence status was determined by availability of the family.


The study was conducted at an American College of Surgeons–designated level I pediatric trauma center that serves the Washington, DC, metropolitan area.


Participants included patients younger than 16 years of age who met trauma activation criteria and were evaluated by the trauma team in our emergency department.

Outcome Measures

We compared task performance between patients with and without FP.


Video recordings of 135 trauma evaluations were reviewed. Family was present for 88 (65%) evaluations. Patients with FP were younger (mean age, 6.4 years [SD = 4.1] vs 9.0 years [SD = 4.9]; P < 0.001) and more likely to have sustained blunt injuries (95% vs 85%, P = 0.03). Noninferiority of frequency and timeliness of completion of all primary survey tasks were confirmed for evaluations with FP. Noninferiority of frequencies of secondary survey task completion was confirmed for most tasks except for examination of the neck, pelvis, and upper extremities. Family members did not directly interfere with patient care in any case.


Performance of most advanced trauma life support tasks during pediatric trauma evaluation was not worsened by FP. Our data provide additional evidence supporting FP during the acute management of injured children.

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