Risk factors for avoidable transfer to a pediatric trauma center among patients 2 years and older

Christopher W. Snyder, Jeremy D. Kauffman, Etienne E. Pracht, Paul D. Danielson, David J. Ciesla, Nicole M. Chandler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND Effective and sustainable pediatric trauma care requires systems of regionalization and interfacility transfer. Avoidable transfer, also known as secondary overtriage, occurs when a patient is transferred to a regional trauma center after initial evaluation at another facility that is capable of providing definitive care. The purpose of this study was to identify risk factors for avoidable transfer among pediatric trauma patients in southwest Florida. METHODS All pediatric trauma patients 2 years and older transferred from outlying hospitals to the emergency department of a single state-designated pediatric trauma center between 2009 and 2017 were obtained from the institutional registry. Transfers were classified as avoidable if the patient suffered only minor injuries (International Classification of Diseases-9th Rev. Injury Severity Score > 0.9), did not require invasive procedures or intensive care unit monitoring, and was discharged within 48 hours. Demographics and injury characteristics were compared for avoidable and nonavoidable transfers. Logistic regression was used to estimate the independent effects of age, sex, insurance type, mechanism of injury, diagnosis, within region versus out-of-region residence, suspected nonaccidental trauma, and abnormal Glasgow Coma Scale score on the risk of avoidable transfer. RESULTS A total of 3,876 transfer patients met inclusion criteria, of whom 1,628 (42%) were classified as avoidable. Among avoidable transfers, 29% had minor head injuries (isolated skull fractures, concussions, and mild traumatic brain injury not otherwise specified), and 58% received neurosurgery consultation. On multivariable analysis, the strongest risk factors for avoidable transfer were diagnoses of isolated skull fracture or concussion. Suspected nonaccidental trauma was predictive of nonavoidable transfer. CONCLUSION Among injured children 2 years and older, those with minor head injuries were at greatest risk for avoidable transfer. Many were transferred because of a perceived need for evaluation by a pediatric neurosurgeon. Future projects seeking to reduce avoidable transfers should focus on children with isolated skull fractures and concussions, in whom there is no suspicion of nonaccidental trauma.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)92-96
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Trauma and Acute Care Surgery
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • avoidable transfer
  • pediatric trauma
  • preventable transfer
  • Secondary overtriage
  • traumatic brain injury

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Critical Care and Intensive Care Medicine


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