Stabilizing patients before transfer could costs lives

While delayed trauma transfers don't leave patients worse off, new research suggests taking too much time to "stay and stabilize" patients could cost lives, according to new study in the Annals of Emergency Medicine.

Researchers analyzed 19,167 trauma patients treated at the University of California Irvine Medical Center between 1996 and 2009 and found that staying at the scene of the incident for longer than 20 minutes increased the chances of in-hospital mortality for patients with penetrating trauma.

Because the time and distance it takes to transport patients to the hospital don't affect mortality risk, emergency responders should spend as little time at the scene as possible, lead study author C. Eric McCoy, UC Irvine base hospital medical director, told HealthLeaders Media

However, hospitals have little control over how much time is spent treating the patient at the scene prior to transport, as it's guided by local EMS policy and protocols, the study noted.

McCoy also acknowledged the findings could raise concerns about faster ambulance speeds and increased collisions by promoting quicker patient relocation, according to HealthLeaders.

Although quicker scene time may help reduce mortality among some trauma patients, when it comes to the emergency room, physicians must take the time to stabilize patients before transferring them so they comply with EMTALA regulations, according to Hospitals & Health Networks Daily.

For more:
- read the study abstract
- here's the HealthLeaders article
- read the H&HN Daily article