Author Credentials

Grant Buchanan, MD, Daniel Kahn, MSIV, Harry Burke, MSII, Brian Czarkowski, MD, Richard Boe, MD, Milad Modarresi, MD, Franklin D. Shuler, MD, PhD


Geriatric, trauma, trauma team activation, head trauma, intracranial hemorrhage, GSC, ISS


Geriatrics | Orthopedics | Surgery | Trauma



Geriatric patients often sustain life-threatening injuries from minor trauma. A growing body of research suggests that these patients are often under-triaged in the emergency setting.The purpose of this research was to evaluate whether or not geriatric trauma patients are under-triaged at a community based level II trauma center.

1434 trauma patients over the age of 65 presenting from 2010-2015 were retrospectively reviewed from the Cabell Huntington Hospital trauma registry and analyzed for age, gender, arrival type, ED response, Glasgow Coma Scale (GCS), Injury Severity Score (ISS), injury cause, ICD-9 diagnosis codes, and mortality. Under-triage and over-triage rates were determined using the Cribari method (under-triage = ISS ≥ 16 without full trauma team activation [TTA]; Over-triage = ISS ≤ 15 with full TTA).

The under-triage rate was 9.5% (132/1393) with the majority of under-triaged patients having head trauma (n=423). There were 371 head trauma patients with a recorded GCS and analysis shows those with a GCS ≥ 13 had a 1.2% mortality risk (n=326; ISS 10.2), but that risk drastically increases to 60% with GSC ≤ 12 (n=45; ISS 21.5). Of the 45 patients with GSC ≤ 12, only 4% had priority 1 TTA using the current protocol (2/45).

The American College of Surgeons-Committee of Trauma (ACS-COT) recommends an acceptable under-triage rate of < 5%. In order to improve geriatric care and reduce under-triage rates, we recommend that an age-based criteria be added to our TTA protocol at our community based Level II trauma center: priority 1 TTA for all patients 65 years or older sustaining head trauma with a GCS ≤ 12 or suspicion of intracranial hemorrhage.