Triage performance of Swedish physicians using the ATLS algorithm in a simulated mass casualty incident: A prospective cross-sectional survey

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Background: In a mass casualty situation, medical personnel must rapidly assess and prioritize patients for treatment and transport. Triage is an important tool for medical management in disaster situations. Lack of common international and Swedish triage guidelines could lead to confusion. Attending the Advanced Trauma Life Support (ATLS) provider course is becoming compulsory in the northern part of Europe. The aim of the ATLS guidelines is provision of effective management of single critically injured patients, not mass casualties incidents. However, the use of the ABCDE algorithms from ATLS, has been proposed to be valuable, even in a disaster environment. The objective for this study was to determine whether the mnemonic ABCDE as instructed in the ATLS provider course, affects the ability of Swedish physician's to correctly triage patients in a simulated mass casualty incident. Methods: The study group included 169 ATLS provider students from 10 courses and course sites in Sweden; 153 students filled in an anonymous test just before the course and just after the course. The tests contained 3 questions based on overall priority. The assignment was to triage 15 hypothetical patients who had been involved in a bus crash. Triage was performed according to the ABCDE algorithm. In the triage, the ATLS students used a colour-coded algorithm with red for priority 1, yellow for priority 2, green for priority 3 and black for dead. The students were instructed to identify and prioritize 3 of the most critically injured patients, who should be the first to leave the scene. The same test was used before and after the course. Results: The triage section of the test was completed by 142 of the 169 participants both before and after the course. The results indicate that there was no significant difference in triage knowledge among Swedish physicians who attended the ATLS provider course. The results also showed that Swedish physicians have little experience of real mass casualty incidents and exercises. Conclusion: The mnemonic ABCDE doesn't significantly affect the ability of triage among Swedish physicians. Actions to increase Swedish physicians' knowledge of triage, within the ATLS context or separately, are warranted. © 2013 Lampi et al.; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.




Lampi, M., Vikström, T., & Jonson, C. O. (2013). Triage performance of Swedish physicians using the ATLS algorithm in a simulated mass casualty incident: A prospective cross-sectional survey. Scandinavian Journal of Trauma, Resuscitation and Emergency Medicine, 21(1).

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