Association of Prehospital Step 1 Vital Sign Criteria and Vital Sign Decline with Increased Emergency Department and Hospital Death

James W. Warwick, Daniel L. Davenport, Amber Bettis, Andrew C. Bernard

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Background: This study analyzed data from the 2017 American College of Surgeons National Trauma Data Bank to examine the effects of pre-hospital Field Triage Decision Scheme Step 1 vital sign criteria (S1C) and vital sign decline on subsequent emergency department (ED) and hospital death in emergency medical services (EMS) transported trauma victims. Study design: Patient and injury characteristics, transport time, and ED and hospital disposition were collected. S1C (respiratory rate [RR]<10, RR>29 breaths/min, systolic blood pressure [SBP]<90 mmHg, Glasgow Coma Scale [GCS]<14) were recorded at the injury scene and hospital arrival. Decline was defined as a change ≥ 1 standard deviation (SD) into or within an S1C range. S1C and decline were analyzed relative to ED and hospital death using logistic regression. Results: Of 333,213 included patients, 54,849 (16.5%) met Step 1 criteria at the scene, and 21,566 (6.9%) declined en route. The ED death rate was 0.4% (n = 1,188), and the hospital death/hospice rate was 4.0% (11,624 of 287,675). Patients who met S1C at the scene or who declined were more likely to require longer hospital lengths of stay, ICU admission, and surgical intervention. S1C and decline patients had higher odds of death in both the ED (S1C odds ratio [OR] 15.1, decline OR 2.4, p values < 0.001) and hospital (S1C OR 4.8, decline OR 2.0, p values < 0.001) after adjusting for patient demographics, transport time and mode, injury severity, and injury mechanism. Each S1C and decline measure was independently predictive of death. Conclusions: This study quantifies the mortality risks associated with individual S1C and validates their use as an indicator for injury severity and pre-hospital triage tool.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)572-579
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of the American College of Surgeons
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 American College of Surgeons

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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