Scoring system can help hospitals improve care during surges in trauma cases

A scoring system that can identify periods of high activity and increased trauma patient deaths in hospital emergency rooms may help hospitals better prepare for catastrophic events.

The scoring system is intended to help facilities deal with surges in trauma patient volume that come with events such as the Boston Marathon bombing or disasters like the Amtrak train crash in Philadelphia, according to a study published as an "article in press" on the Journal of the American College of Surgeons website.

Trauma surgeon Peter C. Jenkins, M.D., and a team of researchers from Indiana University and multiple centers developed the Trauma Surge Index (TSI) scoring system. The TSI, which is scaled to an individual hospital's profile, represents two variables: the severity of each patient's injury, and the time and date of each patient's admission to the hospital. It ranks surge activity on a scale from 0 to 8 (including "greater than 8" as the highest score), and is unique for each hospital that uses it.

The study is the first attempt to statistically evaluate trauma surges at hospitals in North America, according to a study announcement. Study investigators noted that existing efforts to measure trauma surges have relied mostly on expert opinion rather than objective data, and did not consider the severity of injuries to the trauma victims nor the differences in the sizes of varying hospitals. Study abstract