Prehospital Transport Time and Outcomes for Pediatric Trauma: A National Study

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Article, Peer-reviewed

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Introduction: Historically, emergency medical services have aimed to deliver trauma patients to definitive care within the 60 min (min) "Golden Hour" to optimize survival. There is little evidence to support or refute this for pediatric trauma. The objective of this investigation was to describe national trends in prehospital transport time, in relation to the "Golden Hour," and pediatric trauma outcomes.

Methods: Retrospective cohort study of patients (<15 y old) receiving emergency medical services trauma transport between 2017 and 2019. Transport time (less than or greater than 60 min) was the exposure variable, and analyses were adjusted for injury severity score (ISS). Continuous variables with a normal distribution were compared by t-test was and skewed variables were compared by Mann-Whitney U-test. Categorical variables were compared by Chi-Square test.

Results: 54,489 patients met our criteria: 49,628 blunt and 4861 penetrating. Most patients (62.2%) had transport times less than 60 min: 30,389 (61.2%) blunt and 3479 (71.6%) penetrating. The overall mortality rate was 1.6%, 1.2% for blunt and 5.5% for penetrating. For blunt trauma, mortality was higher for transport times less than 60 min (1.5%). For penetrating trauma, mortality was lower for transport times less than 60 min (0.7%). Mean ISS was greater for blunt (7.9) compared to penetrating trauma (7.1), and greater for both trauma types with transport times less than 60 min. For both trauma types, mean length of stay was significantly longer for transport times greater than 60 min, when adjusting for ISS (P < 0.001).

Conclusions: We did not find evidence that prehospital transport within the "Golden Hour" had a substantial association with survival, though it may be associated with length of stay. There are many factors contributing to trauma outcomes, so efforts should continue to expand access and pediatric readiness.

Keywords: Emergency medical services; Golden hour; Pediatric trauma; Prehospital transport.