The impact of implementing a 24/7 open trauma bed protocol in the surgical intensive care unit on throughput and outcomes

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Increased emergency department (ED) length of stay (LOS) has been associated with increased mortality in trauma patients. In 2010, we implemented a 24/7 open trauma bed protocol in our designated trauma intensive care units (TICUs) to facilitate rapid admission from the ED. This required maintenance of a daily bump list and timely transferring of patients out of the TICU. We hypothesized that ED LOS and mortality would decrease after implementation.


The following data from patients admitted directly from the ED to any ICU were retrospectively compared before (2009) and after (2011) the implementation of a trauma bed protocol at a Level I trauma center: age, sex, Glasgow Coma Scale (GCS) score, shock on admission (systolic blood pressure < 90 mm Hg), mechanism, injury severity scores (Injury Severity Score [ISS] and Abbreviated Injury Scale [AIS] score), ED LOS, ICU readmission rates, and mortality.


Of the patients, 267 (17%) of 1,611 before and 262 (21%) of 1,266 (p < 0.01) after the protocol were admitted directly to the ICU, despite similar characteristics. ED LOS decreased from 4.2 ± 4.0 hours to 3.1 ± 2.1 hours (p < 0.01) in all patients as well as patients with an ISS of greater than 24 (3.1 ± 2.5 vs. 2.2 ± 1.6, p < 0.05) and a head AIS score of greater than 2 (4.2 ± 4.9 vs. 3.1 ± 2.0, p = 0.01). Mortality was unchanged for all patients (9% vs. 8%, p = 0.58) but trends toward improved mortality were found after protocol implementation inpatients with an ISS of greater than 24 (30% vs. 13%, p = 0.07) and in patients with a head AIS score of greater than 2 (12% vs. 6%, p = 0.08). A greater proportion of total patients were admitted to a designated TICU after implementation (83% vs. 93%, p < 0.01). ICU readmissions were unchanged (0.3% vs. 1.5%, p = 0.21).


The implementation of a 24/7 open trauma bed protocol in the surgery ICU was associated with a decreased ED LOS and increased admissions to designated TICUs in all patients. Improved throughput was achieved without increases in ICU readmissions.


Therapeutic study, level IV.

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