Factors Associated With Triage Decisions in Older Adult Trauma Patients: Impact on Mortality and Morbidity

Krista L. Haines*, Tracy Truong, Charles N. Trujillo, Jennifer J. Freeman, Christopher E. Cox, Joseph Fernandez-More, Rachel Morris, Ioana Antonescu, Athanasios Burlotos, Braylee Grisel, Suresh Agarwal, Maragatha Kuchibhatla

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Introduction: As medical advances have significantly increased the life expectancy among older adults, the number of older patients requiring trauma care has risen proportionately. Nevertheless, it is unclear among this growing population which sociodemographic and economic factors are associated with decisions to triage and transfer to level I/II centers. This study aims to assess for any association between patient sociodemographic characteristics, triage decisions, and outcomes during acute trauma care presentations. Methods: The National Trauma Data Bank was queried for patients aged 65 and older with an injury severity score > 15 between the years 2007 to 2017. Factors associated with subsequent levels of triage on presentation were assessed using multivariate logistic regression, and associations of levels of triage with outcomes of mortality, morbidity, and hospital length of stay are examined using logistic and linear regression models. Results: Triage of 210,310 older adult trauma patients showed significant findings. American Indian patients had higher odds of being transferred to level I/II centers, while Asian, Black, and Native Hawaiian patients had lower odds of being transferred to level I/II centers when compared to Caucasian patients (P < 0.001). Regarding insurance, self-pay (uninsured) patients were less likely to be transferred to a higher level of care; however, this was also demonstrated in private insurance holders (P < 0.001). Caucasian patients had significantly higher odds of mortality, with Black patients (odds ratio [OR] 0.80 [0.75, 0.85]) and American Indian patients (OR 0.87 [0.72, 1.04]) having significantly lower odds (P < 0.001). Compared to government insurance, private insurance holders (OR 0.82 [0.80, 0.85]) also had significantly lower odds of mortality, while higher odds among self-pay were observed (OR 1.75 [1.62, 1.90]), (P < 0.001). Conclusions: Access to insurance is associated with triage decisions involving older adults sustaining trauma, with lower access increasing mortality risk. Factors such as race and gender were less likely to be associated with triage decisions. However, due to this study's retrospective design, further prospective analysis is necessary to fully assess the decisions that influence trauma triage decisions in this patient population.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)157-165
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Surgical Research
StatePublished - Aug 2023
Externally publishedYes


  • Geriatric trauma
  • Older adult trauma
  • Trauma transfer
  • Triage


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