Does injury pattern among major road trauma patients influence prehospital transport decisions regardless of the distance to the nearest trauma centre? – a retrospective study
Journal article, 2019

Prehospital undertriage occurs when the required level of care for a major trauma patient is underestimated and the patient is transported to a lower-level emergency care facility. One possible reason is that the pattern of injuries exceeding a certain severity threshold is not easily recognizable in the field. The present study aims to examine whether the injury patterns of major road trauma patients are associated with trauma centre transport decisions in Sweden, controlling for the distance from the crash to the nearest trauma centre and other patient characteristics. The Swedish Traffic Accident Data Acquisition (STRADA) database was queried from April 2011 to March 2017. Teaching hospitals with neurosurgery capabilities were classified as trauma centres (TC), all other hospitals were classified as other emergency departments (ED). Injury Severity Score ≥ 13 was used as the threshold for major trauma. Ten common injury patterns were derived from the STRADA data; six patterns included serious neuro trauma to the head or spine. The remaining four patterns were: other severe injuries, moderate to serious abdomen injuries, serious thorax injuries and all other remaining injury patterns. Logistic regression was used to analyse the effect of injury patterns, age, sex and distance from crash to nearest TC on transport decision (TC or ED). Of the 2542 patients, 38.0% were transported to a TC, equating to a prehospital undertriage of 62%. Over half (59.4%) of the patients had four or more Abbreviated Injury Scale (AIS) 2+ injuries. After controlling for age, sex and distance to nearest TC, only patients sustaining serious head injuries together with other severe injuries had significantly higher odds of being transported to a TC (OR = 4.18, 95% CI: 2.03, 8.73). The odds of being transported to a TC decreased by 5% with every kilometre further away the crash location was to the nearest TC. These results highlight that there is considerable prehospital undertriage in Sweden and suggest that distance to nearest TC is more influential in transport decisions than injury pattern. These results can be used to further develop prehospital transportation guidelines and designation of trauma centres.

Road traffic injury


Major trauma

Trauma system

Injury pattern


Helen Fagerlind

University of New South Wales (UNSW)

Chalmers, Mechanics and Maritime Sciences (M2), Vehicle Safety

Neuroscience Research Australia (NeuRA)

Lara Harvey

Neuroscience Research Australia (NeuRA)

University of New South Wales (UNSW)

Stefan Candefjord

Chalmers, Electrical Engineering, Signal Processing and Biomedical Engineering

Sahlgrenska University Hospital

Johan Davidsson

Chalmers, Mechanics and Maritime Sciences (M2), Vehicle Safety

Julie Brown

University of New South Wales (UNSW)

Neuroscience Research Australia (NeuRA)

Scandinavian Journal of Trauma, Resuscitation and Emergency Medicine

17577241 (eISSN)

Vol. 27 1 1-9 18

Driving Forces

Sustainable development

Areas of Advance


Life Science Engineering (2010-2018)

Subject Categories

Anesthesiology and Intensive Care

Vehicle Engineering

Public Health, Global Health, Social Medicine and Epidemiology





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