Field Triage Guidelines of Trauma Patients Revised


Getting the trauma patient to the right place at the right time has been shown to save lives. Today, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) published the MMWR Reports and Recommendations. These guidelines are aimed at ensuring that trauma patients with more severe injuries are taken to trauma centers designed to handle such injuries. These guidelins were developed by CDC and key experts in trauma care.

The recommendations are designed to standardize decision-making at the scene of injury. They also offer guidance on new technologies such as vehicle crash notification systems, which alert emergency services that a crash has occurred and automatically summon assistance.

Previous CDC-funded research has shown that decisions made at the scene of the injury are vital. The risk of death of a severely injured person is 25 percent lower if the patient receives care at a Level 1 trauma center, which has additional resources and specifically designed for care of severe trauma.

Key revisions include:

* Recommendations for the right place and right time to best use crucial emergency care resources
* Vehicle crash damage criteria which can help determine which patients may require care at a trauma center


The Decision Scheme was developed in collaboration with the American College of Surgeons-Committee on Trauma with support from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). It was reviewed by the 36-member National Expert Panel on Field Triage, which included representatives from EMS, emergency medicine, trauma surgery, the automotive industry, public health, and several federal agencies.

The revised guidelines are in line with the 2006 Institute of Medicine report on the state of emergency care. The report envisioned a highly coordinated emergency services system that assures that each patient receives the most appropriate care, at the optimal location, with the minimum delay.

With additional funding from NHTSA, CDC is developing a companion educational initiative for local EMS medical directors, state EMS directors, public health officials, and EMS providers. This toolkit also will be available at no charge from CDC at

For a complete copy of the MMWR report, please visit here.

Center for Disease Control and Prevention

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