Opportunity to reduce transfer of patients with mild traumatic brain injury and intracranial hemorrhage to a Level 1 trauma center

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Abstract

Objective:

Current guidelines do not address the disposition of patients with mild traumatic brain injury (TBI) and resultant intracranial hemorrhage (ICH). Emergency medicine clinicians working in hospitals without neurosurgery coverage typically transfer patients with both to a trauma center with neurosurgery capability. Evidence is accruing which demonstrates that the risk of neurologic decompensation depends on the type of ICH and as a result, not every patient may need to be transferred. The purpose of this study was to identify risk factors for admission among patients with mild TBI and ICH who were transferred from a community hospital to the emergency department (ED) of a Level 1 trauma center.

Methods:

Study subjects were patients ≥ 18 years of age who were transferred from a community hospital to the ED of an urban, academic Level 1 trauma center between April 1, 2015 and March 31, 2016, and with an isolated traumatic ICH. Patients who had an epidural hematoma, were deemed to require a trauma center's level of service, were found to have non-traumatic ICHs, or had a Glasgow Coma Scale of < 13 were excluded. Using a multivariable logistic regression model, we sought to determine patient factors and Computed Tomography (CT) findings which were associated with admission (to the floor, intensive care unit, or operating room with neurosurgery) of the Level 1 trauma center.

Results:

644 transferred patients were identified; 205 remained eligible after exclusion criteria. Presence of warfarin (odds ratio [OR] 4.09, 95% Confidence Interval [CI] 1.64, 10.25, p = 0.0026) and a subdural hematoma (SDH) ≥ 1 cm (OR 6.28, 95% CI 1.24, 31.71, p = 0.0263) were independently statistically significant factors predicting admission. Age, sex, GCS, presence of neurologic deficit, aspirin use, clopidogrel use, SDH < 1 cm, IPH, and SAH were each independently not significant predictive factors of an admission.

Conclusions:

After controlling for factors, transferred patients with mild TBI with a SDH ≥ 1 cm or on warfarin have a higher odds ratio of requiring inpatient admission to a Level 1 trauma center. While these patients may require admission, there may be opportunities to develop and study a low risk traumatic intracranial hemorrhage protocol, which keeps a subgroup of patients with a mild TBI and resultant ICH at community hospitals with access to a nearby Level 1 trauma center.

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